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A paper read by John Gkbenwoop, at Brooklyn, N. Y., Sept. 
24, 1868, before the L. I. Historical Society. 

I HAVE thought that some recollections 
of Aaron Burr, and some of the most pro- 
minent members of the Bar of the City of 
New York of his time, might be interest- 
ing ; and that even a hasty sketch, which is 
all that I can promise, prepared as it has 
necessarily been amidst other occupations, 
might not only be amusing for the hour, 
but be, perhaps, the means of transmitting 
at least to a few of those who are to come 
after us, some of the peculiar traits and 
characteristics of these distinguished men. 
Their memory is fast fading away ; and 
now, if ever, what can be recollected by 
those who saw and heard them should be 
written down and preserved. As to the 
first. Col. Burr, I enjoyed peculiar advan- 
tages of knowledge, having been for a pe- 
riod of about six years, namely, from about 
1814 to 1820, a clerk and student in his 
ofiice and m constant intercourse with him, 
and this at a period of my life when the 
strongest impressions were likely to be 
made upon me. As to the others, I can of 
course give you only the result of such ob- 
servations as frequent opportunities of see- 
ing and hearing them in court in their pro- 
fessional characters, and occasionally at 
their ofiices or in other places, afforded me 
the means of making ; but they will be such, 




I think, as will give you some distinct idea | 
of them, if they should not be sufficient to 
reproduce them before you. 

The public life and character of Col. Burr 
are well known, for they have already be- 
come matter of history ; but his personal 
habits and peculiarities are not so well un- 
derstood, and it is these which I desire 
more particularly to bring before you. 
Indeed it is from these sources that more 
may be learned of a man's real character 
than from any other. 

What then can I say of this remarkable 
man — for such he truly was — Avho though 
small in person filled so great a space — Avho 
once moved familiarly before the world, and 
yet seems to us now so like a mystery ! 

There is a very old maxim with which 
we are all conversant, de mortuis nil nisi 
honum. I admit that it is more to be com- 
mended for its charity (blessed virtue it is) 
than to be regarded by the truthful histo- 
rian or biographer. But it may be safely 
said that it has been quite sufficiently de- 
parted from in the case of Col. Burr. 

The dark side of Col. Burr's character 
has been very often presented, and it is 
unnecessary that I should make another 
exhibition of it. It gives me pleasure to 
be able to bring into the light features upon 
which it is more agreeable to dwell, and 
some of which, indeed, may be contem- 
plated with advantage. 

Let me first speak of his temperance in 
eating and drinking. It would be natural to 
suppose that a man somewhat unrestricted, 
as it must be admitted he was, in one re- 
spect which may be regarded as in some 
degree correlative, would not be very much 
restrained in the indulgences of the table. 
But the fact is otherwise. His diet was 
very light. A cup of coftee and a roll, with 
but tseldora the addition of an egg, and 
never of meat or fish, constituted his break- 
fast. His dinner, in a majority of cases, 
consisted of roasted potatoes seasoned with 
a little salt and butter, or perhaps of some 
thickened milk (called sometimes " honny 
clabber'''') sweetened with sugar. A cup of 
black tea with a slice of bread and butter 
was the last meal ; and these constituted, 
as the general rule, his whole sustenance 

for twenty-four hours. The exception was 
when some friend was invited by him to 
dinner. He was very fond, when seated 
at table, of having his favorite cat near him, 
and it was a pleasant thing to see jmss sit 
on the arm of his chair and keep him com- 
pany. As to spirituous liquors I have no 
hesitation in saying, from personal know- 
ledge, that he never used them. His usual 
beverage was claret and water sweetened 
with loaf sugar. His wine he bought by 
the cask, and had bottled at his residence. 
The result of his abstemious course of living 
was that he enjoyed uniform good health, 
which was seldom if ever interrupted. 

His industry was of the most remaikable 
character. Indeed it may Avith truth be 
said that he was never idle. He was al- 
ways employed in some way, and what is 
more, required every one under him to be 
so. Sometimes in coming through the 
office and observing that I was not at work, 
as I might not have been for the moment, 
he would say, " Master John, can't you find 
something to do ?" although it is safe to 
say that no clerk in an office was ever more 
constantly worked than I was. He would 
rise at an early hour in the morning, de- 
vote himself to business all day — fur he had 
a large general practice — and usually re- 
tired to rest not sooner than twelve or half- 
past tw'elve at night. In this way he would 
accomplish a vast amount of work. His 
perseverance and indefatigability, too, were 
strikingly characteristic. No plan or pur- 
pose once formed was abandoned, and no 
amount of labor ever seemed to discourage 
him or cause him to desist. To begin a 
thing was, with him, to finish it. How 
widely in this respect he difl\?red from some 
professional men of his own and the present 
day I need hardly say. I could recur to 
some greatly his juniors in years who were 
and are his very opposites in this respect. 
He was for having a thing done, too, as soon 
as it could be, and not, as some have erro- 
neously supposed, for seeing how long it 
could be put oft' before it was begun. 

But I must say a w'ord of his manner in 
court. He seemed, in the street aiul every- 
where in jniblic, to be strongly conscious 
that he was a mark for observation — not 


H I S T li I C A L ]M A G A Z I N E , 


indeed in the sense in whicli Hamlet is 
spoken of as " tlie observed of all obser- 
vers," but as an object, to some of curio- 
sity, to others of hostile or suspicious re- 
gard. Carrying this feeling into a court- 
room his manner was somewhat reserved, 
'though never submissive, and he used no 
unnecessary words. He would present at 
once the main jioint of his case, and as his 
preparation was thorough, would usually 
be successful. ]>ut he was not eloquent. 
If he thought his dignity assailed in any 
manner, even infcrentially, his rebuke was 
withering in the cutting sarcasm of its few 
words, and the lightning glance of his ter- 
rible eyes which few could withstand. I 
may say in this connexion that his self-pos- 
session, under the most trying circumstan- 
ces, was wonderful, and that he probably 
never knew what it was to fear a human 

If there was anything which Burr's proud 
spirit supremely despised it was a mean^ 
prying curiosity. He early inculcated on 
me the lesson, never to read even an opened 
letter addressed to another which might be 
lying in my way, and never to look over 
another who was writing a letter. It was 
one of my duties to copy his letters, and I 
shall never forget the indign.ant and wither- 
ing look which, on one occasion, he gave 
to a person in the office who endeavored to 
see what I was copying. Neither would 
he tolerate any iihpertinent staring or gaz- 
ing at him as if to spy out his secret 
thoughts and reflections. 

" Too close inquiry, his stern glance would quell — 
There breathed but few whose aspect might defy 
The full encounter of his searching eye. 
He had the skill when cunning's gaze would seek 
To probe his lieart and watch his changing cheek, 
At once the observer's purpose to espy, 
And on himself roll back his scrutiny." 

You will be glad to hear me say some- 
thing of his very fascinating powers in 
conversation. It may seem strange, if not 
incredible, that a man who had passed 
through such vicissitudes as he had, and 
who must have had such a crowd of early 
and pressing memories on his mind, should 
be able to preserve a uniform serenity and 
even cheerfulness ; but such is the fact. 

His manners were courtly and his carriage 
graceful, and he had a winning smile in 
moments of ]»leasant intercourse which 
seemed almost to charm yon. He would 
laugh too, sometimes, as if his heart was 
bubbling with joy, and its eifect was irre- 
sistible. Nobody could tell a story or an 
anecdote better than he could, and nobody 
enjoyed it better than he did himself. His 
maxim w.i.s suaviterin modo^ fort iter in re. 
Yet where spirit and a determined manner 
were required, probably no man ever 
showed them more eftectively. Although 
comparatively small in person and light in 
frame, I have seen him rebuke and i)ut to 
silence men of position in society greatly 
his supei'iors in physical strength, who 
were wanting in respect in their language 
towards him. 

Col. Burr was a social man ; that is, he 
liked the company of a friend, and would 
spend a half hour with him in conversation 
most agreeably. Occasionally one with 
whom he had been on intimate terms, and 
who had shared his adventures, like Samuel 
Swartwout or William Ilosack, would call 
and have a pleasant time. Dr. W. J. Mc- 
Nevin was also intimate with him. He 
was very fond of young company. Chil- 
dren were delighted with him. He not 
only took an interest in their sports, but 
conciliated them and attached them to him 
by presents. The latter, I may observe, 
was also one of his modes of pleasing the 
more mature of the gentler sex. 

He was very fond of alludmg to events 
in his military life. Indeed I think that he 
chiefly prided himself upon his military 
character. His counsel was much sought 
by foreigners engaged in revolutionary en- 
terprises, who happened to be in New 
York ; and during the period of the revo- 
lution in Caraccas, Generals Carrera and 
Kibas, who took part in it, and during its 
existence visited New Y^'ork, were on very 
intimate terms with him. The former was 
a gentleman of great talent but of modest 
and retired bearing. 

There are some who suppose that Col. 
BuiT had no virtues. This is a mistake. 
He was true in his friendships, and would 
go any length to serve a friend ; and he 




liad also the strongest affections. I shall 
never forget the incidents concerning the 
loss of liis daughter Tlieodosia, then wife 
of Gov. Alston of South Carolina. Soon 
after Col. Burr's return fiom Europe to 
New York he arranged for her to come on 
and visit him, and she set out, as is known, 
from Georgetown in a small schooner called 
the l^atriot. Timothy Green, a retired 
lawyer in New Yoi-k, a most worthy man 
and an ohl friend of Col. Burr, went on by 
land to accom])any her. The tact of the 
departure of the vessel with his daughter 
and Mr. Green on board was communicated 
by letter from Gov. Alston to Col. Burr, 
and he looked forward with anticipations 
of joy to the meeting which, after so maoy 
years of separation, was to take place be- 
tween himself and his dear child. A full 
time for the arrival of the vessel at New 
York elapsed, but she did not come. As 
day after day passed and still nothing was 
seen or heard of the vessel or of his daugh- 
ter, that face, which had before shown no 
gloom or sadness, began to exhibit the sign 
of deep and deeper concern. Every means 
was resorted to to obtain information, but 
no tidings were ever lieard of that vessel 
or of her upon whom all the affections of 
his nature had been bestowed. " Hope 
deferred" did in this case, indeed, make 
sick and nearly crush the heart. His sym- 
bol, which he loved occasionally to stamp 
upon the seal of a letter, was a rock in the 
tempest-tossed ocean which neither wind 
nor wave could move. But his firm and 
manly nature, which no danger or reverse 
nor any of the previous circumstances of 
life had been able to shake, was near giving 
way. It was interesting though painful to 
Avitness his struggle; but he did rise supe- 
rior to his grief, and the light once more 
shone upon his countenance. But it was 
ever afterwards a subdued light. There 
Avas a story afterwards that the vessel had 
been seized by the crew and the passengers 
killed with the view of converting her into 
a ])irate ; but this story has never been 
traced to any reliable source, although a 
publication was made at one time that a 
confession to this effect had been made by 
fiome dying sailor. 

Something will be expected to be said 
by me with regard to his duel with Gen. 
Hamilton. So much has been written on 
this subject already that I can add nothing 
to the history of the transaction. Every 
one will form an opinion for himself as to 
who was to blame in that imfortunate affair. ' 
I will say, however, that it was a matter to 
which Col. Burr, from delicacy, never re- 
ferred. He was no boaster an<.l no calum- 
niator, and certainly he would have hail no 
word of censure for his dead antagonist. 
I will relate, however, an anecdote told me 
by him indicating the degree of hostility 
felt towards him by some after that trans- 
action, and at the same time his own intre- 
pidity, although to the latter he seemed 
not to attach the slightest importance. He 
was travelling in the interior of this state, 
and had reached a country tavern where 
he was to stay for the night. He was 
seated at a table in his room engaged in 
writing, when the landlord came up and 
announced that two young men were below 
and wished to see him, and added that 
their manner seemed rather singular. He 
had heard that two very enthusiastic young 
gentlemen were on his track, and he was 
not therefore surprised at the announce- 
ment. Taking out his pistols and laying 
them before him he told the landlord to 
show them up. They came up, and as one 
was about to advance into his room. Burr 
told him not to apju'oach a foot nearer. 
Then addressing them he said, " What is 
your business ?'^ The foremost said, " Are 
you Col. Burr ?» " Yes," said the Colonel. 
" Well," says the young man, " we have 
come to take your life, and mean to have it 
before we go away." Upon this. Burr, lay- 
ing his hand ui>on one of his pistols, re- 
plied, " You arc brave fellows, are you not, 
to come here two of you against one man? 
Now if either of you has any courage, come 
out with me and choose your own distance 
and I'll give you a chance to make fame. 
But if you don't accept this proposal," 
bringing the severest glance of his terrible 
eyes to bear upon them, " I'll take the life 
of the first one of you that raises his arm." 
They were both cowed, and walked oft" like 




It may not perhaps be out of place to 
relate here auotlier incident illustrating 
Col. Burr's remarkable ])resence of mind, 
Mhich occurred while he Avas in Paris. He 
had received a remittance of a considerable 
sum of money, and his valet formed a plan 
to rob him of it by coming u])on him una- 
wares with a loaded pistol, liurr was en- 
gaged in reading or writing in his room at 
a late hour at night when the fellow en- 
tered with pistol in hand. Burr recognised 
him in a moment, and turning suddenly 
round, said to him sternly, "How dare you 
come into the room with your hat on ?'' 
The valet, struck by a sudden awe and the 
consciousness of having violated that deco- 
rum which had from habit become virtu- 
ally part of his nature, raised his arm to 
take off his hat, when Burr rushed upon 
him, tripped him down, Avrested his pistol 
from him, and calling lor aid, had him se- 
cured and carried of 

Col. Burr, as is well known, was what is 
termed a good shot with ai)istol. To illus- 
trate his skill in this respect I will relate a 
circumstance told me by an old colored 
man named " Harry," who was in the habit, 
while I was with Col. Burr, of coming to 
his house to clean his boots and do little 
jobs. "Harry" had lived many years with 
the Colonel while the hitter's residence was 
at Eichmond Plill in the upper part of New 
York. The Colonel often had dinner j^ar- 
ties, and after dinner the gentlemen Avould 
go out upon the back piazza to enjoy the 
air, and would amuse themselves by tiring 
with a pistol at apples which " Harry" 
would throw up for them. Said "Harry," 
laughing in the way peculiar to an old Af- 
rican, "De Colonel Avould hit 'cm alnios 
ev'ry time while d'oder gentleman couldn't 
hit 'em at all." 

The charge against Col. Burr of treason 
has formed a prominent })art of his history. 
All the facts developed on the trial have 
been long since published, and it will not, 
of course, be expected that I should refer 
to them. I will say, however, that this 
was a subject upon which he was always 
disposed, whenever proper, to converse with 
those who were intimate m ith him. I my- 
self have conversed with him upon it. He 

said he had been entirely misunderstood 
and misrepresented as to the object which 
he had in view. He had never, he stated, 
any design hostile to the United States or 
any part of it. His object was, as he said, 
to make himself master of Mexico and place 
himself at the head of it, and if they had 
let him alone he would have done it. He 
seemed to entertain a great contempt for 
Gen. Wilkinson, who was in command at 
the South at the tinie, considering him a 
very weak man. 

Col. Burr, like other great men, had 
some remarkable ecceniricities of cha- 
racter. He Avas very fond of all sorts of 
inventions, and ahvays trying experiments. 
He puzzled his brains for a long time to get 
some motive power which would avoid the 
necessity of using fire or steam, of Avhich 
Livingston and Fulton then held the mo- 
nopoly. He had models made, and I also 
got my ambition excited about it. But his 
efforts and ray own philosophical powers 
and chemical knowledge fell short, after a 
hard trial, of accomplishing the object. 
One great end which he desii-ed to attain 
in housekeeping Avas to save fuel — not mo- 
ney ; and I have knoAvn hhn to go to an 
expense, I should judge, of forty or iifty 
dollars in contrivances to save live dollars 
in the value of Avood consumed. When 
Quincy's soap-stone stoves Avere introduced 
his experiments Avere almost interminable. 

He Avas very liberal and even reckless in 
spending money for certain purposes, Avhile 
in others, such as bills of mechanics, he Avas 
very particular and scrutinizing. He liked 
to have a bill looked over very carefully, 
and reduced to as Ioav an amount as the 
case would admit of, but, so far as I know, 
never practised any dishonesty or refused 
to pay any just debt which he had incurred. 
A Scotch carpenter, by the name of An- 
drcAV Wright, Avho did a great deal of job- 
bing carpenter's Avork for liim, and Avhose 
bills it was amongst my duties to examine, 
finding the course pursued in relation to 
them, took it very good-naturedly, but 
adopted an ingenious expedient to secure a 
fair amount at least. He Avould make a 
gross charge for the job and then add the 
items in detail, can-ying out also charges 




for them. I will not say the amount was 
intended to be duplicated, but after the 
ordeal through which the bill passed, he 
got, probably, what was fiirly due. 

I stated in a former part of this paper 
that Col. Burr was very temperate in eat- 
ing and drinking. Whilst that is true, it 
is not true that he was so in respect to 
smoking. He was an inveterate and con- 
stant smoker. lie even had cigars of an 
extra length manufactured to enable him 
the better to enjoy the tobacco, and at 
the same time to avoid the necessity of 
lighting fresh cigars after others had been 
consumed. It was and is now to me in- 
compreliensible how a man of his slender 
make could stand such a constant excite- 
ment of his nervous system and draw upon 
his secretory organs (for he Avas not a dry 
smokei") witliout being seriously injured by 
it. But I never noticed that they ])roduced 
any deleterious eifect. His constitution 
had no duubt been hardened by the exj*©- 
sures and discipline of his early military 
life, and this may be the explanation. 
What will you say when I tell you that in 
addition to this he took snuif? 

He knew a good deal about horses, and 
could get more service out of one without 
injuring him than any man I ever knew, 
lie took journeys often in a horse and gig, 
and I usually accomj^anied him. He would 
hire at a livery stable, and with a common 
horse would travel seven miles an hour all 
the day through, and would carry this rate 
sometimes through the second and some- 
times the third day. His mode was to keep 
the horse up to that gait, but never to ex- 
ceed it. He never attempted to pass a 
countryman in a wagon without asking his 
])ermission, and in this way he avoided all 
aimoyances from dust in little races which 
juight otherwise have taken place. 

1 have forborne thus far to refer to a 
matter connected with the character of 
Col. Burr an<l identilied almost with his 
name, and although not within the plan 
\\ith which 1 started in this notice, I ought 
not perhaps to omit it. I allude, of course, 
to his (/(dliditries. This is a topic upon 
which it would be imixjssihle to speak with 
any particularity without transcending that 

limit of propriety within which all public 
discussions should be confined. I shall, 
therefore, speak of it in the most general 
terms. I do not believe that Col. Burr 
was any worse in this respect than many 
men of his own and of the present day who 
pass for better men. The diftcrence be- 
tween them is that he was much less dis- 
guised, and that he did not pretend to be 
what he was not. I think he was quite as 
much sought alter by the other sex as he 
was a seeker. There seemed indeed to be 
a charm and fascination about him which 
contiiuied even to a late i)eriod of his life, 
and which was too powerful for the frail 
and sometimes even for the strong to resist. 
I know that he has been accused of much 
wrong in that respect, and it may be with 
truth. I feel no disposition to justify him 
in his course, or even to palliate what must 
be regarded in the best aspect as a vice. 
15ut I have heard him say, and if it be true 
it is certainly much in his favor, that he 
never deceived or made a false promise to 
a woman in his life. Tliis is much more 
than many can say who have a much better 
name than he has. His married life with 
Mrs. Prevost (who had died before I went 
into his office) was of the most affectionate 
character, and his fidelity never questioned. 
There is another thing, too, which I will 
add to his credit. He was always a gen- 
tlenuxn in his language and dej)ortmcnt. 
Nothing of a low, ribald, indecent, or even 
indelicate character ever escaped his lips. 
He had no disposition to corrupt others. 
One other thing I will add in this connex- 
ion. Col. Burr, in every thing relating to 
business, and indeed in all his e]>istolarv cor- 
respondence with men, had a special regard 
for the maxim that, " things written re- 
main," and was very careful as to what he 
wrote. But with regard to the other sex, 
such was his confidence in them that he 
wrote to them with very little restraint. 

Some will ])erhaps like to know what 
were bis reliyloas sentitnents. I do not 
think he was a believer in the liible as con- 
taining a Divinely revealed religion, nor in 
the superhuman nature of Christ and what 
are deemed the main points <jf the scheme 
of salvation through Christ. He was, how- 




ever, very reticent in these respects, and 
may have been, as many are, more of a 
skeptic than a disbeliever. He went to 
churcli occasionally to hear some remark- 
able preacher, and always behaved reve- 

I must point yon to one admirable and 
strong characteristic in him. He sought 
with young men in whom he felt an interest 
to graft tliem as it were with his indomi- 
table will, energy, and jierseverance. I 
can truly say, that although I was often 
overtasked beyond my powders and even to 
the injury, no doubt, of my health, so that 
his course seemed to me to be over-exact- 
ing and oppressive, yet that he constantly 
incited me to progress in all the various 
modes and departments of mental culture, 
even in music, the influence of which he 
deemed of great importance, although he 
had but little taste for and no knowledo-e of 
it himself; and that my success in life, so far 
as I have succeeded, has been owing to the 
habits of industry and perseverance which 
were formed under his training. 

Col. Burr Avas rather under the medium 
height, but well proportioned, of light but 
smewy frame, and of great [jowers of en- 
durance both of body and mind. His o;ait 
was measured, and rather that of the soldier 
than the civilian. But he moved along so 
quietly that his pace, to some, might seem 
almost stealthy. 

As to the character of his mind it would 
be probably presumptuous in me to attempt 
to analyse it. If I should express an opi- 
nion it would be that it was not large, com- 
prehensive, and philosophical, but rather 
quick, penetrating, and discerning. He 
Avas a shi-ewd planner, and indefatigable 
and persevering in carrying out his plans, 
although he did not always succeed in ac- \ 
comphshing them. He was a good scholar, ' 
acquainted with polite literature, and spoke 
the French and Spanish— the former flu- 
ently. I think his heart was not in the 
proiession of the law, but that he followed 
it principally for its gains. He -was, how- 
ever, a good lawyer, Avas versed in the 
common, civil, and international law ; ac- 
quainted generally with the reports of adju- 
dicated cases, and in preparing important 


cases usually traced up the law to its an- 
cient sources. But political and military 
life seemed to interest him more than any 
thing else, although he never neglected his 
business. He prided himself probablvmore 
upon his military qualities than upon any 
I other. If he could have gratifled his ambi- 
|tion by becoming King or Emperor of 
j Mexico he would no doubt have been in liis 
j glory. But this was not to be. For years 
after I was in his oflice he continued the 
[practice of the law, but with his advancing 
years his business graduallv dropped off, 
although the fruits of the well-known Eden 
suits left him still a small fund. His alli- 
ance or v^ther mesalliance with Madame 
Jumel, and their divorce on her complaint, 
were among the later and more unfortunate 
events of his life. He Avas reduced gra- 
dually to obscurity and poverty, and d^ied, 
as is known, on Staten Island with scarcely 
a friend at his side. 

Thus terminated the career of one who 
had played so prominent a part on the great 
stage of public life in the days of Washing- 
ton, Jefferson, and Hamilton, 

_ The lesson which may be learned from 
his life and its termination is, that however 
distinguished a man may otherwise be, if 
he lacks those virtues which are recognised 
as being essential to the well-being o1' soci- 
ety, and sets at defiance the? opinions and 
sentiments of the community concerning 
them, he can never permanently succeed. 
Such a course reacts upon its author, and 
there is an even-handed justice that com- 
mends the ingredients of the poisoned cha- 
lice to his own Hps. He could have out- 
lived the effect of the duel with Hamilton, 
and even the influence of his arrest and 
trial for treason, if his private character had 
been such as to secure the public respect 
and esteem. But unfortunately it was not. 
Yet it becomes our duty to judge our fel- 
low-men charitably. Few of us can afford 
to do otherwise. We cannot tell what 
strong circumstances may have bent and 
permanently inclined his early disposition 
and principles, and it is not for us too 
harshly to condemn him. We shonld ra- 
ther strive to think of him kindly when we 
contemplate his remarkable character and 




career, learn all the valuable lessons we can 
from his good qualities, and mitigate, as far 
as we can, his bad ones. 

We shall breathe now a little more freely, 
as we pass from the portrait which we have 
been for some time contemplating, to ano- 
ther ; and that is of Caleb S. Riggs, a 
gentleman who, in his day, was known 
principally as a great chancery lawyer. 

Mr. Riggs kept his oflice in Pine street, 
Xew York, and was a remarkable man. 
He was well versed in equity-law and prac- 
tice, and had i)robably the largest Chan- 
cery business of any lawyer at the New 
York bar. That ^^'as his particular depart- 
ment and specialty. Those were the days 
of huge bundles of papers and large bills of 
costs, when proceedings were paid for by 
the folio, and when a short story was usu- 
ally spun out into a very long one. A bill 
in Chancery was a cui'iosity to a person 
v.'ho had never seen one, and the unlucky 
defendant found himself charged with a 
hundred things, and with making a hun- 
diX'd pretences to justify himself which he 
never dreamed of The com})lainant was 
called in the bill " The, Orator;' and he 
was a very prolix one. After a cause Avas 
ri})e for hearing on the pleadings and proofs, 
the latter of which were taken and reduced 
to writing in an examiner's otiice, it came 
on for argument before the Chancellor. 
At the time to which I refer, the celebrated 
and distinguished James Kent, father of 
the late Judge AVilliam Kent, was Chan- 
cellor. Mr. Riggs, of course, always had a 
pretty large share of the business to be 
done in court. He was very patient and 
thorough in his examination and prepara- 
tion of a cause, and seklom failed of success 
where he ought to have succeeded. He 
was not an eloquent or very interesting 
speaker, but he was i)ertinacious in the 
extreme. His personal ai)pearance was 
unique. I trust I shall not be considered 
as evincing any disrespect for his memory, 
for he was ceitainly an able man, when I 
state that his face was somewhat spare and 
sallow, and that the muscles of his coun- 
tenance had a sort of smiling rigidity of 
expiession which never varied during the 
whole course of an argument. When he 

got going he moved along with a measured 
pace, and there was no stopping him. He 
was never discouraged by intimations from 
the court, however adverse. It was amus- 
ing, and indeed irresistibly ludicrous to an 
observer, to witness the scenes which would, 
sometimes take place between him and the 
Chancellor. Mr. Riggs would often, in 
addressing the Couit, take up a pen and 
hold it out horizontally before him, and one 
of his favorite expressions was " now I un- 
dertake to say." I recollect particularly 
one occasion when the Chancellor, who 
was a good-natured man, but had a limit to 
his patience, had heard Mr. Riggs through 
a long argument and was satisfied that he 
was wrong, and that the ground taken by 
him was untenal)le. He expressed this 
opinion to him in his ofi-hand way, and so 
decidedly, that it was plain he didn't wish 
to hear anything more. But Mr. Riggs 
was not to be thus put down. The Chan- 
cellor was seated in his chair in the court- 
room in the City Hall, New York, with a 
window on one side looking towards Chat- 
ham street and a window on the other side 
looking towards Broadway. After the 
Chancellor had expressed his views, as just 
mentioned, Mr. Riggs began, " Now, if 
your Honor please" (balancing forward his 
pen), " I undertake to say" — "I don't care 
what you undertake to say, Mr. Riggs," 
says the Chancellor, " my mind's made 
up" — " But if your Honor Avould only 
hear — " " I have heard you fully, Mr. Riggs, 
and don't want to hear anything more." 
" But if your Honor please, there are some 
considerations Avhich I think I could ad- 
duce which would" — with this the Chan- 
cellor Avaxed impatient, turned suddenly 
and looked out towards Chatham street, 
saying, "Talk away, but there's no use in 
it, my mind's made up." " Now if your 
Honor please," rejoined Mr. Riggs, "I 
think I may safely undertake to say — " 
Upon this the Chancellor twisted himself 
about and looked out towards Broadway, 
saying, " Talk away — talk away — talk all 
day, but it's of no use." In a moment or 
two the Chancellor shil'ted towartls Chat- 
ham street, and then again towards Broad- 
way, pretending not to hear, till at length 




Mr. Rigors, ■svithout nmnifesting tlie least 
disturliaiu-e of iniiid, hnt finding it useless 
to continue longer, reluctantly, yet quietly 
and pleasantly, took his seat. This was, 
however, no sure indication that the case 
would be decided against him ; for Mr. 
Riggs knew well, as everybody did, tliat if 
upon further reflection and further exami- 
nation the Chancellor should be satisHed 
he was wrong, he would recede from what 
miirht have been a too hasty opinion. 

Mr. Riggs occui)ied the highest position 
in social lile, and was much esteemed for 
his amenity and private virtues. 

I will next attem|tt to give you a glimpse 
of Tiiojr.vR Addis Emmeit. Mr. P^mmett, 
as is well known, was one of the patriot 
exiles of Ireland, who came over to this 
country with ])r. McKevin, Mr. Sampson, 
and others. Though not so illustrious \)ev- 
haps, in one sense, as his martyr-brother 
of that coimtry, yet he was a man of the 
highest order of intellect and of the most 
noble qualities of character. As a lawyer 
he had no superior at the New York bar. 
He was both learned and eloquent, and 
shone with equal brilliancy before a jury 
and before the bench. His style of speak- 
ing was fervid and impassioned, and al- 
though he had a slight national accent and 
by no means an attractive face, yet so 
agreeable was his voice and so fluent and 
graceful his diction, that he constrained the 
attention and secured the admiration of his 
hearers. During an argument he would 
often get his left arm behind him, and if, 
as was sometimes the case, a quill pen (the 
only kind then in use) was in his hand, it 
would soon be ground up and fall in powder 
to the floor. Yet he never was over-ex- 
cited, and at the close of an address re- 
lapsed at once into a state of serenity. He 
could bear an adverse decision most philo- 
sophically and tranquilly. I have seen him 
when his Avhole soul appeared to be en- 
gaged in an arduous effort, and when all 
his powers of mind and body were thrown 
into the highest state of excitement, and 
when he seemed sure of success, disap- 
pointed by an adverse result ; yet he w'ould 
take it with but the slightest if any evi- 
dence of disturbance. This struck me at 

the time, as it does still, as a very rare qua 
lity. He was a man of a high sense of 
honor, and was never known to do, and 
was indeed incapable of doing, any thing 
that Avas mean, unworthy, or ungentlemanly. 
The principal points of some of his best 
legal arguments are to be found in the 
volumes of the law-reports of this State, 
but they can, of course, give no idea of his 
style. Mr. Ennnett was of the full ordi- 
nary height, rather stout in ])erson, with a 
fine head which was somewhat bald, was 
near-sighted, and used a single eye-glass, 
which was suspended in front. Ill's honor- 
able character and a resi)eetablo share of 
his talent descended to his sons Robert and 
Thomas Addis Emmett, the former of whom 
is still living in Kew York. 

These are, of course, the merest sketches, 
or rather outlines— my whole object being 
to give you, as briefly as I can, a concep- 
tion of the general and striking character- 
istics of the men of whom I speak. 

I will next endeavor to give you some 
idea of another celebrated lawyer — Wil- 
liam Slosson. He kept his oflic'e for many 
years at the north-west corner of Nassau 
and Cedar streets. He was a slender man 
physically, of very little force of manner, 
but one of the most sensible and clear- 
minded men and best reasoners of his dav. 
As a mere lawyer he certainly had no su- 
perior, and I think it is not too much to say 
that he may be justly considered as having 
been the most eminent man at the New 
York bar at the time of which I speak. 
No one was listened to with more respect 
by the judges or the bar, although his 
voice was somewhat feeble, and conse- 
quently not as effective as it would other- 
wise have been. He had a very extensive 
practice, both in the common-law courts 
and in chancery, and the M'onder is now to 
me that with so slight a frame and delicate 
a constitution as he seemed to have, he 
was able to do justice to it. One of his 
most celebrated cases was one in which 
Col. Burr was opposed to him — the case of 
Novion vs. Hallett. It grew out of a cap- 
ture of a vessel made by a little French 
privateer called the " Marengo:'' The cap- 
ture was no doubt illegal, and Mr. Slosson 




brouGjlit an action of trover in the Supreme j miliar terras with pretty much all the farm- 

Conrt to recoA'er the vnhie of the vessel 
and cavfTo. Burr, instead of attempting to 
maintain the legality of the capture, took 
mainly the ground that the Common-Law 
Courts had no jurisdiction -when a vessel 
was taken as a prize-of-war, but that it was 
a case for the Admiralty Courts. The con- 
test was long, and much learning was dis- 
played on both sides, but Slosson suc- 
ceeded. His success, however, was but 
temporary. The perseverance of Burr in- 
duced him to take the decision of the Su- 
preme Court to the Court of Errors, where 
the judgment was unanimously reversed on 
the ground taken by Col. Burr. In this 
case at least Burr showed himself to be the 
better lawyer of the two. It Avas seldom, 
howevci-, that Mr. Slosson failed in event- 
ually establishing his opinions on legal sub- 
jects to be correct ; and with regard to the 
case in question my impression is that no 
other available course was left open to Mr. 
Slosson at the time than the one he pur- 

The present Judge Slosson of New York 
is, I beheve, a son of William Slosson. 

It is with great pleasure that I next turn 
to present to you a hastily drawn portrait 
of Elisha W. Kixg, another prominent 
member of the New York Bar in the time 
of which I speak. I spent some time in his 
othce after 1 left that of Col. Burr. Mr. 
King was well known, and Avas indeed a 
favorite on Long Island, and particularly 
in Kings County, where he was engaged in 
the most important cases that were tried 
there ; and he had a very handsome prac- 
tice in New York. He was also an Alder- 
man of the City of New York for some 
years at a time when it was esteemed an 
honor to hold that office, because who did 
hold it were worthy and honorable men. 
Personally Mr. King was of handsome 
exterior, and in conversation one of the 
most agreeable and affable of men ; fond 
of social intercourse and capable of telling 
a good story ; and owing to these qualities 
and his official influence he had hosts of 
friends. He was a fluent and forcible 
speaker, and tried a cause with admirable 
tact. He was on friendly and almost la- 

ers and others who composed the jury, and 
was consequently always listened to with a 
favorable dispo.^ition on their part. He 
would never fail to amuse them with a 
good story in sumniing-u]) a case, would 
contrive to pass around his snuft"-box among 
them once or twice, and unless his case 
was a very bad one indeed, he would gene- 
rally win it. Although, as may be supposed 
from what I have said, Mr. King was a 
very genial man, yet he was also character- 
ized by a remarkable degree of firmness 
and inflexibility. Those who imagined from 
his good-nature that his principles were as 
yielding as his disposition was gentle, foi;nd 
themselves wonderfully mistaken. His in- 
tegrity was of the highest order, and his 
honesty of purj^ose was as firm as adamant. 
]\Ir. King was a very kind man, ever ready 
to serve a friend and to do a gooil act to 
others. He died in Brooklyn, and during 
his last illness received the affectionate 
visits of many of his friends. To those 
who knew and recollect him, and there 
are many still living who do so, it will be 
unnecessary for me to say that there are 
perhaps none to whose memory they can 
look back with more true esteem and re- 
gard. As an example of a professional 
man of unusual talent, who pursued an ho- 
norable and successful career, a fiiithful and 
able public officer, a kind husband and 
father, and a warm friend, fl-w have been 
his equals. 

After speaking of Mr. King in connexion 
with this county, my thoughts are natu- 
rally turned to Peti:r W. IIaixliff, one 
of his cotemporaries, who kept his oflice hi 
New York, but resided in this city. ]\Ir. 
RadcliffAvas a remarkable as well as an ex- 
cellent and able man. My friend N. F. 
Waring, Esq., Avas for several years a stu- 
dent in his otflce, and probably could give 
many interesting reminiscences concerning 
him. But I knew him many years, and was 
on terms of friendship and intercourse with 
him. When 1 s;iy that he was a remarkable 
man, I mean in reference to his peculiar 
characteristics. He was a very ])recise man, 
and very methodical in Avhat he tlid. He 
made out every night what he termed an 





affe?ida--emhyacm<r all that he had to at- 
tend to the next day. This Avas on a nar- 
row slip of paper, and as each matter re- 
ceived Its proper share of attention it was 
struck off. He was a very industrious, 
])ains-takiiig, and thorough man in examin- 
ing the papers appertaining to a case, and 
in his investigations of the^legal questions 
appertaining to them. His bi-iefs were very 
lull and his arguments thorough— so much 
so that Judge Edwards, one of our most 
able Circuit Judges, used to say of them 
that they were like a drag-net, leaving no- 
thing behind them. Another remarkable 
ieature m Mr. Kaddiff's character was 
that, notwithstanding his admitted ability 
and industry, he seldom felt an entire con- 
lidence in the correctness of his conclu- 
sions He could see some point of difficulty 
or thought he could see it. In consulta- 
tions he would often evince this peculiarity 
and a common form of expression with him 
when an answer was suggested to his diffi- 
culties was " Quere de hoc,'' tapping at the 
same time on his snuffbox. Mr. Radcliff 
was a gentleman of naturally a very warm 
and excitable temperament. But he was 
extremely kind and benevolent, and he had 
so disciplined himself that he never allowed 
himselt to show anger or ill-feeling. I have 
seen his patience and temper so severely 
tried in the j^ractice of his profession in 
court that his blood would become suffused 
and seem to be almost ready to spin throuo-h 
his face, and yet he would preserve his for- 
bearance and moderation. He would be 
indignant, however, in denouncino- fraud 
and wrong, and no one guilty of it could 
look to his gentleness to protect him fi-om 
the severest condemnation. Mr. Radcliff 
had a very extensive practice in the courts 
ot JNew lork, and was engaged in some of 
tlie most important land and commercial 
cases. He ranked amongst the most re- 
spectable and able of the New York Bar 
He was a]:)pointed, and served for several 
years, as First Judge of Kings County, the 
duties ot_ which office he discharged with 
great ability and impartiality. As a pri- 
vate citizen no one was more universally or 
iHghly esteemed. He resided, as many 
will recollect, m a house on the north-west 

side of Columbia street, and had a beautiful 
garden in the rear extending to the brow 
of the hill, which was tilled with choice 
fruit trees, vines, flowers, and shrubs, in 
which he took great delight. By the grad- 
ing of Furman street a great part of the 
slope of the hill which had formed the sup- 
port of his grounds was cut otF and his 
grounds gave way— his garden was ruined, 
and the beauty and charm of his residence 
destroyed. This was a severe blow to 
Judge Radcliff, and he never got over it. 
He sued the city for redress, but could not 
obtain It. The courts held that the city 
had a right to grade the street, and that his 
loss was damnum absque injuria — a da- 
mage without wrong. It was a hard case, 
and it seems to be hard law ; but the Couit 
ot Errors affirmed the decision. The 
Judge's sensitive nature did not long sur- 
vive this trial, and he died but a few years 
1 afterwards. There are few men upon 
whose memory those who knew him and 
who still live, will look back with more 
aflectionate regard than upon his. 
_ Tliere are others whom I ought to men- 
tion, and of whom I may speak, if I should 
be spared to do so, at some other time. 
JoHx Wells, the elegant and classic John 
Wells I may call him, is one of these, of 
whom as a man somewhat identified with 
Brooklyn, and holding a place at the bar 
second to no other lawyer of his time, it 
would be proper to speak at some length. 
But this paper is already sufficiently ex- 

_ The men of whom I have endeavored to 
give you some slight idea were lawyers in 
the true sense of the term. They differed, 
no doubt, considerably from some of the' 
lawyers of the present time, who share the 
protessional business which is transacted in 
New York and elsewhere. There are se- 
veral reasons why they did so. Popula- 
tion, commerce, and all the varieties of 
business have since that time very larcrely 
increased; the number of suits and°the 
business requiring a lawyer's attention are 
probably twenty fold greater than they for- 
merly were ; and consequently cases must 
be prepared and disposed of with more ra- 
pidity than was then requisite. I trust I 



fihall not be consirlercd unjust to the mem- aspire, nnrl in Avhich it may command the 
hers of tlie profession oftiie present d.w if | respect and admiration of society. 
I also express the oinnion that the esprit de 
corps which then characterized tlic profes- 
sion is not now, generally speaking, equally i 
great. I do not mean to say that there are 
not some shining and l^riliiant lights who 
are worthy exceptions. But of the profes- 
sion taken at large, I think it will be ad- 
mitted that it does not occupy so high a 
position as it did in the days of which I 
speak. It must be borne in mind also that 
the total relaxation which has been made 
in respect to the term of study and clerk- 
ship which was formerly required to entitle 
a young man to admission to the bar, has, 
in many instances, ])roved highly detri- 
mental to the character of the profession, 
so that the general standard of attainment 
has become much reduced. This evil has 
been seen, and I am happy to believe that 
our judges, conforming to the wish of the 
profession, are disposed to require a more 
thorough examination as to qualification 
than has been ado])ted. Such an examina- 
tion seems absolutely requisite when we 
consider that as the law now stands no 
term whatever of study or clerkship is pre- 

The profession of the law is a noble one. 
Some of the most distinguished champions 
of civil liberty have adorned its ranks, and 
from those ranks some of the most eminent 
statesmen, both of England and America, 
have sprung. 

In our present national struggle it has 
nobly resjjonded to the country's call, and 
among others the names of the gallant and 
lamented Baker, of l>atler, Sickles, and 
Bawks, have become illustrious. Indeed I 
am iiifoi'med by one who has occupied a 
])Osition which entitles his statement to con- 
fidence, that the legal profession has fur- 
nished more oflicers to the army than any 
other profession or occupation. 

Let us cherish the hope, then, that it may 
not lose its honoraltle character — that a 
just pride and laudable ambition, founded 
in an ai)prL'ci.ition and love of true great- 
ness, may animate its members, and con- 
tinue to increase until it shall take that high 
position to which it is entitled and should 

Papers Hay 
Relate to Burr 

hcumeiits Taken From Zebu-\ 
Ion Pike One Hundred Years j 
Ago Found in Archives q/} 

How much fli(i Zebulon M. I'iUc 
know about, the Aaroa B\ut con- , 
sniracyV 'J^'his question, hrst 
i-aisod 100 years ago, is still im- 1 
settlpil 10 the satisfaction of the! 
scientific historians, and now t^O"!^^ j 
word from Mexico that is likely to raise 
the point onco more, perhaps to deur-i 
mine it Hually. It is ->» ,"»l">i-t;)»t l*^';)''; - 
too. for i'ike is Keuerally credited wit i 
havms? been a true patriot am Ji man 
•.^f unsullied honor, a soldier who li\«<i. 
fought and died for his country, while i 
his fame af> an explorer is world-wide. | 
The news from Mexico which is excil- 
imr the hisloriaiis was perhaps entirely ( 
.verlookcd by the average uewspapei j 
I . ader. It consisted of a very briet (ti>- . 
patch, published two or three days ago. ^ 
to the effect that there had been dis- ; 
covered among the Mexican archives the 
papers which were taken trom I^ic"teu- 
ant Pike when he was» captured neui 
Santa Fe in 1807. These papers may 
levi'al much as to what has always been | 
hidden ill the Burr conspicacy, or the> i 
mav turn out to be nothing more than 
geographical notes and descriptions ot , 
The couutry, for which purpose alone 
I'ike's expedition was ostensibly uudei- 
lakeu. 1 

\i the time of making this expedition 
iiii.) New Mexiof Pike was only lii years 
X "a lieuteuaut iu the iWd States 
Aruiv It was nudertakeu almost lumieUi- 
•ately upon his return to St. Lou s trom a 
somewhat similar expedition to the so ace 
of the Mississippi Kiver. Pike ^«"t ";i^.«\ 
.the orders and mstructious of <.^f»«';^' 
James Wilkinson. Commauder-iu-thief of 
the armv, and as arch a traitor as Buii 
bimself. -though so adroit that he i"aHaged 
to become (•ommander-in-Chief again aftei 
he had been dismissed and tried foi tiea- 
Uou Pikes official instructions were to 
Study and map the water courses down to 
the southern extremities of our newly-ac- 
nuired Louisiana, to maintain and cement 
friendly relations with tlie Spaniards and 
to take good care of one Dr. J. li. Robiu- 
Igon. who was going along with Inm as a 
'•voluuteer," the remainder of the part> 
iconsistiug of regular enlisted soldiers 
I As soon as Pike returned to the Lmted 
'States after mouths of wandering inter 
tst in the results of his expedition w.-is 
Ishowa everywhere, and when these lesults 
Iwere published they were sought wltn 
avidity. The .iealous policy of hpain had 
alwavs surrounded her Mexican possessions 
with" such guards and restraints as to ren- 
Ider thera inaccessible and mysterious. 
About all that was known of the region 

hy Americans was v\hat had come in the 
siories of a much earlier time, when Span- 
ish explorers were marching through the 
f onntr.T, civilizing it and roltbing it of as 
much as they could carry of its fabulous 
wealth in gold and oth<ir pre<"ious mer- 
rhandise. It was a fairyland lying at our 
very doors, peopled with ii civilization 
which had developed Its riches, yet un- 
ikuown to us. an inspiration to the imagl- 
[natlon of the explorer and a whip to the 
appetite of the fortune-hunter. 

The expedition had also Included a trip 
Ito that great mountain peak iu Colorado, 
'then so little known thai, it received 
ilMke's name, under which It has ever since 
been known. AVith this and with the suf- 
ti rings from exposun; and the encounters 
wiih outlaws, J'ugiiives, lost and wander- 
ing remnants of former abortive attempts 
' to explore, and mysterious outcasts held 
captive by the Spaniards, the account of 
this trip wiis one to catch the fancy of 
•■very sort of reader. 

The first edition of Pike's journal was 
published in this city by C. &; A. Conrad 
within a year of his return, and, edited by 
Pike himself, was so hurriedly thrown to- 
gether as to be confusing. Soon a Lon- 
don edition was published, then one in 
l*''rench, then one in Dutch. Siuce then 
cditious have appeared from time to time 
in this country, in response to a contin- 
uiiiK demand. The last was published in 
3ISii,"5. the editor being that really scientific 
investigator. KUiott Clones. It contains a 
memoir of Pike and throws much new light 
on tlie whole subject, but still leaves un- 
answered the iiuestion as to whether Pike 
was an agent of Wilkinson, unconscious 
or otherwise, iu the matter of the Burr I 
eonspiracy. Dr. Cloues assumes that Pike ' 
was a high-minded, patriotic soldier, but 
after bringing uuich inconclusive but al- 
wa.vs interesting evidence, tinally gives it 
up, leaving the matter to be (letermined 
by the discovery of new documents. 
Wilkinson, who revealed the Burr con- 
spiracy to the Government in order to save 
himself and, perhaps, to enter into still, 
deeper treachery, is known now to have 
lieea at one time one of Burr's .conspira- 
tors and the shrewdest schemer of them 
all. He gave all the otlicial iustructiou to 
Pike conceruiug the expedition, and iu his 
several personal letters, uuearthcd by Dr. 
Cloues, there is nothing to indicate on its 
face that the young explorer was on any 
other business than a Goverument mission. 
All that Pike knew of Ilobinson, accord- 
ing to his own .iournal, was that he had 
a "private claim lo collect for u St. Louis 
merchant for goods traded with the Span- 
iards. Pike didn't think the claim was 
gooil, or that Kohinsou would be success- 
iu\. Cloues writes Kobinsou down as a 
.spy without liesilation. 

Pike and his little party made a winter 
camp on the Conejos Kiver, tlie west fork 
of the Rio Grande. This was on Spanish 
territory, but Pike said iu his journal, and 
subsequently to his captors, that he had 
supposed himself to be on the Ked River. 
Dr. Cloues is not the first one to point cut 
that Pike could uot have supposed any- 
thing of the kind, and he infers that I'lke 
had "gone there perhaps for maps, perhaps 
on purpose to be captured, perhaps by 
prQvious arrangement between Wilkinson 
and the Spanish. Kven at that he may 
have had papers of which he did not know 
the contents or purport. Also his state- 
u)ent that lie thought himself on the Red 
Jliver and in American territory may have 
been to prevent friction between the two 
.'govenimeuts. He makes no such explana- 
tion, however, iu his published accounts 
of the trip. 

nent's "entire contideiice In the integ 

iko, I 

• «o aloiio to 

Unew exactly 

'I'..", li.. u 1^ i-r iH- i.M''Ui'<l Santa Fe 

,k it time to m-eive a visit 

Mish 01- their emlssurios. anci 

i„ a few days after Kobln- 

, i.aiiuni. a message came to bhu 

,'hivitailon to "visif the Spans 

,1^ at Santa Fo. Seeing ^t' ^ ""' ^ 

luiveil to accept this invitation J Ija* 

St n.l a little and then went,, taking 

of his parrv less than a score m num- 

i.;:,- with ^ iu : At Sauta Ke he was re- 

'v'ed of%ome of his Papei«. ";'t >-^-t,uned 

..t|,f.i-s There, i.h), he met his late tia\(i 

_-'eompanlon. Uobinson. but V^^^^^ 

I to know him. Very shortly Pike his 

Sanation ae.epUHl. -"« ^^t •}'•,•• ' ^^^ <^s,| 

•ill escort, on h s way out of the Spanl>n 

i rv 1 is trunk full of papers went 

..i liim. hut at fhihaukna the Spanish 

;,mmau'i;-.-ln-chief said i',\""'m d"' 'IS 

stay t« retain tlieiu and he did. IhefeC 

;.re doubtless the papers .i"«t discovered 

AVhc-ther he was a messenger fiom Hull 
or Wilkii sou oi- not Pike was very coiir- 
pmislv treated He was never a captive 
,ev ,ud bo 1 g required to leave the country 
nder escort He was taken to American 
m-itoiv a a point now within the pres- 
ent boundaries of Louisiana, and there "le- 
o-ised" While in Santa Fe and en route 
b 01 -h the Spanish territory Pike kept 
his eves and ears open, as usual, and not- i 
ed^iany intnresting^hlngs lie met sume ; 
of the rasRPd surveyors of the Nolan paitT. 
who venturing into the country about the 1 
year 1S(X). had never returned. He also 
fmmd Tr.niner, a murderer, who ha.l fled , 
from St. Louis year.s before liyinp: a fugi- 
Tve tn.der the name of Henderson. He, 
lirst leanied in the Mexican papers while ' 
Sai ta Fe that Burr was being tried for 
,"uspii"cy. and make* a very brief note 
of It in his journal. ^ , ^ i 

P ke was overdue when at ast he 
rea-hed Amerlean territory. , >V-ilkmsou 
wrote to him at once, telling him of the 
llurr affair and that he himself iWUkm- 
soiO was accused of complicity, and add- 
in" that, therefore, ''you must be^cautioub, 
xtremeiv cautious, how you breathe a 
Mord of nil that you may have to tel . , 
•ike at once wrote a Ions letter in reply, 
naking oulv a bare refereu.'e at the end 
i the a"cu\=ations against Wilkinson and 
,.hin"iufr'at oiico into a long explanation 
I,f how he had been received and treated 
liv the Spanish authorities. 
•-T will omit." writes Pike, "the h auteur 

of mv reception (by the Spanish Goyernor| | 

Mjre but in the evening, finding the laaiis 
of San a f" «rre treating them to wine. I 
was apim-hensive that Intemperance might 

^^'jJiriiall'ma'l'en back long before ^ 

became aware of gossip V" , ^;,^'^, ' ssa 4 
he had been a private ageni oi mi ssa^e 
beam- to the slJanlards Jn ^he un; cim- 
i»nli-acv He at once wrote a spiiltin lei 
Ter to' tieneral Hearborn. Se.retaiy of, 
War asl^liK for such an expression as i 

and upriKhtnesji of Lieutenant P 
Milt was rather scant in praise or appro-, 
elation of an expedition about which the | 
entire country was excited, and the re- j 
suits of which were of acknowledged im- 
portance. The letter said ihat. although 
the expe<litlon had "not been 'inrtertaken 
by order of the President." its ori^aniza- 
tlon and purposes wei-e known to hlra and 
its results would be "intci-esting." This 
was when the wllv Wilkinson was unde*- 

charges, which he subsequently escaped 
through lack of evidence, m), of course, 
the Government was not pralsefnl. 

Wilkinson is known uow to have oceii 
in the pav of the Spanish Government 
while holding the office of ComraaBder-in- 
Chlef of the American array. Shortly af- 
ter his acquittal of complicity in the Burr 
conspiracy he said laughiugly, when askea 
what Pike's secret mission to New Mexico 
had been, that Pike himself did not know. 
And that is undoubtedly the truth— seldom 
as Wilkinson ever fold it— but the full an- 
swer to the question which he turned aside 
with this reply may be found iu the papers 
ji: r flis^ovfved iu Mexico. 

Pike attempted through several years to 
obtain extra remuucratiou for himself and 
his men for the expedition they had made. 
Whether his failure to do so was because 
of the Government's suspicion of AVilkin- 
son's connection with the trip or merely 
because of a penurioiisness which has fre- 
quently been manifested la not known. 

Zebulou Montgomery Pike was born in 
Trenton, N. .1.. in 1779. He was the son 
of a Revolutionary officer, whose regiment 
he entered at the age of 15. He rose to 
the rank of Brigadier General during the 
war of 1812, and was killed by the ex- 
plosion of a magazine just at the conclu- 
sion of the Battle of York in upper Can- 
ada, In which the Americans were vic- 

The Romance of Aaron Burr 


ita^cMx!^ G^-^ ^1-r^^ 









^OW when young Aaron, 
in the throbbing metropo- 
lis of New York, finds 
himself a lawyer and a 
married man, with an 
olhce by the Bowling 
Green and a house in 
fashionable Maiden Lane, 
he gives himself up to a cool survey of his 
surroundings. What he sees is fairly and 
honestly set forth by the good Doctor Bellamy 
after that dominie returns to Bethlehem and 
Madam Bellamy. The latter, like all true 
women, is curious, and gives the Doctor no 
peace until he relates his experiences. 

" The city," observes the veracious Doctor, 
looking up from his tea and muffins, " is 
large; some say as large as twenty-seven 
thousand. I walked to every part of it, 
seeing all a stranger should. There is much 
opulence there. The rich, of whom there 
are many, have not only town houses, but 
cool country seats north of the town. Their 
Broad Way is a fine, noble street — very 
wide I — fairer than any in Boston." 

"Doctor!" expostulates Madam Bellamy. 
"Wife, it is fact! They have, too, a new 
church, which cost twenty thousand pounds. 
At their shipyard I saw an East Indiaman 
of eight hundred tons — an immense vessel! 
The houses are grand, being for the better 
part painted — even the brick houses." 
"What! Paint a brick house?" - 

"It is their ostentation, wife; their sense- 
less parade of wealth. One sees the latter 
everywhere. I was to breakfast at General 
Schuyler's; it w^as an elaborate affair. The}' 
assured me their best people were present; 
Coster, Livingston, Bleecker, Beekman, Jay 
were some of the names. A more elegant 
repast I never ate — all set as it was with a 
profusion of massive plate. There were a 
silver tea pot, a silver coffee pot " 

"Solid silver?" 

"Aye! The King's hall-mark was on 
them; I looked. And finest linen, too — 
white as snow! Also cups of gilt; and after 
the toast, plates of peaches and a musk 
melon! It was more a feast than a break- 

"Why, it is a tale of profligacy!" 

"Their manners, however," goes on the 
good Doctor, " do not keep pace with their 
splendid houses and furnishings. There is 
no good breedmg; they ha\-e no conversa- 
tion, no modesty. They talk loud, fast, 
and all together. It is a mere theater of din 
and witless babble. They ask a question; 
and then, before you can answer, break in 
with a stream of inane chatter. To be 
short, I met but one real gentleman " 


"Aye, wife; Aaron. I can say nothing 
good of his religious side; since, for all he 
is the grandson of the sainted Jonathan 
Edwards, he is no better than the heathen 






that rageth. But his manners! — what a 
polished contrast to the boorishness about 
him! Against that \ulgar background he 
shines out like the sun at noon!" 

Young Aaron, beginning to remember 
his twenty-seven years, objects to the de- 
scriptive "young." He has ever scorned 
it, as though it were some epithet of infamv. 
Now he takes open stand against it. 

"I am not so young," says he, to one who 
mentions him as in the morning of his years; 
"I am not so young but that I have com- 
manded a brigade, sir, on a field of stricken 
battle. ]\ry rank was that of colonel! You 
will oblige me by remembering the title." 

In view of the gentleman's tartness, it 
will be as well jierhaps hereafter to drop the 
"young"; for no one likes to give offense. 
Besides, our tart gentleman is married, and 
a father. Still, "colonel" is but a word of 
pewter when no war is on. " Aaron ' ' should 
do better; and escape his challenge, too, 
that irritating "young" being dropped. 

As Aaron runs his glance along the front 
of the town's affairs, he notes that in com- 
merce, fashion, politics, and, one had almost 
said, religion, the situation is dominated of 
a quartette of septs. There are the Living- 
stons—numerous, rich. There are the Clin- 
tons, of whom Governor Clinton is chief. 
There are the Jays, led liy the Honorable 
John of that ilk. Most and greatest, there 
are the Schuylers, in (lie van of which tribe 

towers the sour, self-seeking, self-sufficient 
General Schuyler. Aaron, in the gossip of 
the coffee houses, hears much of General 
Schuyler. Also, he hears more of that austere 
jjerson's son-in-law, the brilliant Alexander 

" I shall be glad to make his acquaintance," 
thinks Aaron, when he is told of the latter. 
"I met him after the battle of Long Island, 
when in his pale eagerness to escape the 
English he had left baggage and guns behind. 
Yes; I shall indeed be glad to see him. 
That such as he can come to eminence in the 
town possesses its encouraging side." There 
is a sneer on Aaron's face, as" these thoughts 
run in his mind; those praises of son-in-law 
Hamilton have vaguely angered his self-love. 

Aaron's opportunity to meet, and make 
the young ex-artilleryman's acquaintance, 
is not long in coming. The Tories, whom 
the war stripped of their property and civil 
rights, are praying for relief. A meeting 
of the town's notables has been called; the 
local great ones are to come together in the 
Long Room of the Fraunces Tavern. Being 
together, they will consider how far a decen't 
Americanism may unbend toward a Tory 

Aaron arrives early, for the Fraunces Long 
Room is his favorite lounge. The big apart" 
ment has witnessed no changes since a day 
when poor Peggy Moncrieffe, as the modern 
Ariadne, wept on her near-by Naxos, while 




a forgetful Theseus, in that same Long 
Room, tasted his wine unmoved. Aaron is 
at a corner table with Colonel Troup, when 
son-in-law Hamilton arri\-es. 

"That is he," says Colonel Troup, for 
they have been talking of the gentleman. 

Already nosing a rival, Aaron regards the 
newcomer with a curious black narrowness 
which has little of liking in it. Son in-law 
Hamilton is a short, shm, dapper figure of a 
man, as short and slim as is Aaron himself. 
His hair is clubbed into an elaborate 
and profuseh- powdered. He wears a blue 
coat with bright buttons, a white vest, a 
forest of rufifles, black velvet smalls, white 
silk stockings, and conventional buckled 

It is not his clothes, but his countenance 
to which Aaron addresses his most searching 
glances. The forehead is good and full, 
and rife of suggestion. The eyes are (juick, 
In-ight, seltish, unreUable, prone to look 
one wav while the plausible tongue talks 
another] As for the face generally- fresh, 
full, sensual, brisk— it is the face of a flat- 
terer and a poUtician, the face of one who 
will seek his ends by nearest methods, and 
never mind if they be muddy. Also, there 
is much that is lurking and secret about the 
expression which recalls the slanderer and 
back-biter, who will be ever ready to ser\e 
himself by lies whispered in the dark. 



Son-in-law Hamilton does not see Aaron 
and Colonel Troup, and goes straight to a 
group the long length of the room away. 
'Faking a seat, he at once leads the conversa- 
tion of the circle he has joined, speaking in a 
loud, confldent tone, with the manner of one 
who regards his own position as impregnable, 
and his word decisi\e of whate\er question 
is discussed. 

The pomjjous self-consequence of son-in- 
law Hamilton arouses the dander of Aaron. 
Nor is the latter's wrath the less, when he 
discovers that General Schuyler's self- 
satisfied voung relative thinks the suppliant 
Tories should be listened to, as folk over- 
harshly dealt with. 

As Aaron considers son-in-law Hamilton, 
and decides unfavorably concerning that 
young gentleman's bumptiousness and pert 
forwardness, tlie comixiny is rapped to (jrder 
by General Schuyler himself. Lean, arro- 
gant, supercilious, the General explains 
that lie has been asked to jjreside. Being 
established in the chair, he announces in a 
rasping, dictatorial voice the liberal objects 
of the coming together. He submits that 
the Tories have been unjustly treated. It 
was, he says, but natural they should adhere 
to King George. The war being now over 
and King George beaten, he does not believe 
it the part of either a Christian or a patriot 



to hold hatred^against them. These same 
Tories are still Americans. Their names 
are among the highest in the city. Before 
the Revolution, they were one and all of 
a first respectability, many with pews in 
Trinity. Now when freedom has won its 
battle, he feels that the victors should let 

word of the rusty old General is equal to 
marring or furthering the fortunes of every 
soul in the room. 

The pause is at last broken by Aaron. 
Self-possessed, steady, his remarks are brief 
but pointed. He combats at every corner 
wliat the rusty General has been pleased to 

Riproduccd from eiigj-aving of portrait by J. Vandyke 

bygones be bygones, and restore the Tories, 
in both property and station, to a j)hK-e which 
they occupied before that pregnant Philadel- 
phia Fourth of July in 1776. 

All this, and more to similar effect, the 
austere Schuyler rasps forth. When he 
closes, a profound silence succeeds; for 
there is no one who does not know the 
Schuyler power, or believe that the rasping 

advance. The Tories were traitors. They 
were worse than the English. It was they 
who set the Indians on our borders to torch 
and tomahawk and scalping knife. They 
have been most liberally, most mercifully 
dealt with, when they are permitted to go 
unhanged. As for restoring their forfeited 
estates, or permitting them any civil share 
in a government which they did their best 



to strangle in the cradle, the thought is pre- 
posterous. They may liave been "respect- 
able" as General Schuyler states; if so, 
the respectability was spurious — a mere 
hypocritical cover for souls reeking of vile- 
ness. They may have had pews in Trinity. 
There are ones who, wanting pews in Trinitx-, 

than son-in-law Hamilton is upon him ver- 
bally. \\'hile ajjproving ones are 
admiringly buzzing, the latter begins to talk. 
His tones are high and ])atronizing, his 
manner condescending. He speaks to Aaron 
direct, and not to the audience. He will do 
his best, he explains, to be tolerant, for he 

A/ade from an etching by Jacques Reich 

still hope to make their worldly foothold 
good, and save their souls at last. 

As Aaron takes his seat by Colonel Troup, 
a murmur of guarded agreement runs through 
the company. Many are the looks of sur- 
prised admiration cast in his young direction. 
Truly, the new-comer has made a stir. 

Not that his stir-making is to go unop- 
posed. No sooner is Aaron in his chair. 

has heard that Aaron is new to the town. 
None the less, he must ask that daring person 
to bear his newness more in mind. He 
himself, he says, cannot escape the feeHng 
that one who is no better than a stranger,- 
an interloper, might with a nice propriety 
remain silent on occasions such as this. 
Son-in-law Hamilton ends by declaring that 
the position taken by Aaron, on this subject 



of Tories and vvluit shall be their rights, is 
unAmcrican. He, himself, has fought for 
the Revolution; hut, now it is ended, he 
holds that gentlemen of honor and liberality 
will not be guided by the ugly clamor of 
partisans, who would make the unending 
punishment of Tories a virtue, and call it 
j)atriotism. He fears that Aaron misunder- 
stands the sentiments of those among whom 
he has j)itched his tent, and congratulates 
him on a youth that offers both an excuse 
for the rashness of his expressions and the 
hope that he may live to gain a better wisdom. 
Son-in-law Hamilton does himself proud, 
and the rusty old General arches his crest, 
to find himself so well defended. 

The rusty General exhibits both surprise 
and anger, when the rebuked Aaron again 

claims. 1 myself was a soldier, and while 
serving as such was so fortunate as to meet 
our frienc^. He does not remember the 
meeting. Nor do I blame him; for it was 
upon a day when he had forgotten his bag- 
gage, forgotten one of his guns, forgotten 
everything in truth .save the English behind 
him; and I should be much too vain if I 
expected that, under such forgetful circum- 
stances, he would remember me. As to my 
newness in the town, and that crippled 
Americanism wherewith he charges me, I 
have little to say. I got no one's consent to 
come to New York; I shall ask no one's 
permission to stay. Doubtless I would have 
been more within a fashion, had I gone with 
both questions to the gentleman, or to his 
celebrated father-in-law who presides here 

(i E N K K A L G K O N <; E CLINTON 

Stalcsman and soldier : Governor of the State of New York^ '777-1795 <^*td iSoi-iS 

signifies a desire to be heard. This time, 
Aaron, following that orator's examjjle, 
talks not to the audience but to son-in-law 
Hamilton himself. 

"Our friend," says Aaron, "reminds me 
that I am young in years; and I think this 
the more generous on his i)art, since I have 
seen quite as many years as has he himself. 
He calls attention to the battle-battered 
share he took in securing the Iil)erties of this 
country; and, while I believe him better 
qualified to win laurels as a son-in-law than 
as a soldier, I concede him the crc^dit he 

to-day. These errors, however, I must 
abide by. Also, I shall content myself with 
an Americanism which, though it possess 
none of those sunburned. West Indian ad- 
vantages so strikingly illustrated in the 
gentleman, may at least remember that it 
is two hundred years old." 

Having returned upon the self-sutVicient 
head of son-in-law Hamilton, those courtesies 
which the latter lavished uj)on him, Aaron 
proceeds to say again, but with more vigori>us 
emphasis, what anti-Tory sentiments he has 
earlier ex])rcssed. \\'hen he ceases s])caking 



there is no applause, nothing save a dead 
stillness; for all who have heard feel that a 
feud has been born, a Burr-Schuylcr-Hamil- 
ton feud, and are prudently inclined to await 
its development before pronouncing for 
either side. The feeling, however, would 
seem to follow the lead of Aaron; for a re- 
solution, smelling of leniency toward Tories, 
is laid upon the table. 


WHILE Aaron, frostily contemptuous, 
but with manners as superfine as his 
ruffles, is saying those knife-thrust 
things of son-in-law Hamilton, that voung 

desired. He makes no effort at retort, but 
stomachs in silence those words of Aaron 
which burn his soul like coals of fire. What 
is strange, too, for all their burning he vaguely 
finds in them some chilling touch as of death. 
He realizes, as much from the grim fineness 
of Aaron's manner as from his raw, unguarded 
words, that Aaron is ready to carry discussion 
to the cold verge of the grave. 

Son-in-law Hamilton's nature lacks in 
that bitter drop, so present in Aaron's, which 
teaches folk to die but never yield. Where- 
fore, in his heart he now shrinks back, afraid 
to go forward with a situation grown peril- 
ous, albeit he himself provoked it. Saving 
his credit with ones who look, if they do not 
speak, their wonder at his mute tameness, 
he says he will talk with General Schuyler 

M A J O K - (; F. N E K A I. 1' H I I. I r S C 11 i: V 1. E R 

A soldier and politician, General Schuyler -ivas one 0/ New York's two senators to the First Congress 

gentleman's face is a study in black an.d red. 
His expression is a composite of rage colored 
of fear. The defiance of Aaron is so full, 
so frank, that it seems studied. Son-in-law 
Hamilton is not sure of its purpose, or what 
intrigue it may hide. Deeply impressed as 
to his own importance, the thought takes hold 
on him that Aaron's attack is parcel of some 
deliberate design by folk who either hate him 
or envy him, or both, to lure him to the duel- 
ling ground and kill him out of the way. He 
draws a long breath at this, and sweats a 
little; for life is good and death not at all 

concerning what course he shall pursue. 
Saying which he gets away from the Fraunces 
Long Room somewhat abruptly, feathers 
measurably subdued. Aaron lingers but a 
moment after son-in-law Hamilton departs, 
and then goes his polished, taciturn way. 

The incident is a nine-days' food for 
gossip; wagers are made of a coming bloody 
encounter between Aaron and son-in-law 
Hamilton. Those lose who accept the 
sanguinary side; the two meet, but the 
collision is politely peaceful, even while no 
good friendliness but only a wider separation 



is the upcome. The meeting is the work of 
son-in-law Hamilton, who is presented by 
Colonel Troup. 

" We should know each other better, 
Colonel Burr," he observes. 

Son-in-law Hamilton is the smiling picture 
of an affability that of itself is a kind of 
flattery. Aaron bows, while those affable 
rays glance from his chill exterior as from 
an ice field. 

" Doubtless we shall," says he. 

Son-in-law Hamilton gets presently down 
to the serious purpose of his coming. " General 
Schuyler," he says gravely, for he ever speaks 
of his father-in-law as though he were a 
demigod, " General Schuyler would like to 
meet you, and bids me ask vou to come to 

Colonel Troup is in high excitement. No 
such honor has been tendered one of Aaron's 
youth within his memory. Being whollv 
the courtier, he looks to see the honored one 
eagerly headlong to go to General Schuyler 
— that Jove who controls not alone the local 
thunderbolts but the local laurels. He is 
shocked to his courtier-like core, when Aaron 
maintains his cold reserve. 

"Pardon me, sir!" says Aaron. "Say 
to General Schuyler that his request is im- 
possible. I never call on gentlemen at their 
suggestion and on their affairs. When I 
have cause of my own to go to General 
Schuyler, I shall go. Until then, if there 

be reason for our meeting, he must come to 

"You forget General Schuyler's age!" 
returns sop-in-law Hamilton. There is a 
ring of threat in the tones. 

"Sir," responds Aaron, stiffly, "I forget 
nothing. There is an age-cant which I will 
not tolerate. I desire to be understood as 
saying, sir, and you may repeat my words'to 
whomsoever possesses an interest, that I shall 
not in my own conduct consent to a social 
doctrine which would invest folk, because 
they have lived sixty years, with a franchise 
to patronize or, if they choose, insult gentle- 
men whose years, we will suppose, are less 
than thirty." 

"I am sorry you take this view," returns 
son-in-law Hamilton, copying Aaron's stiff- 
ness. " You will not, I fear, find many to 
support you in it." 

" I am not looking for support, sir," ob- 
serves Aaron, jjointing the remark with one 
of those black, ophidian stares. " Also, I 
do you the courtesy to assume that you in- 
tend no criticism of myself by your remark." 

There is a rising inflection as though a 
question is put. Son-in-law Hamilton so far 
submits to the inflection as to explain. He 
intends only to say that General Schuyler's 
place in the community is of such high and 
honorable sort, as to make his request to call 
upon him a mark of favor. As to criticism: 
— Why, then, he criticized no gentleman. 



There is much profound bowing, and the 
meeting ends, Colonel Troup, a trille aghast, 
retiring with son-in-law Hamilton, whose 
arm he takes. 

" There could be no agreement with that 
young man," mutters Aaron, looking after 
the retreating Hamilton, "save on a basis 
of submission to his leadership. I'll be first, 
or nothing." 

Aaron settles himself industriously to the 
practise of law. In the courts, as in every- 
thing else, he is merciless. Lucid, inde- 
fatigable, convincing, he asks no quarter, 
gives none. His business expands; clients 
crowd about him; prosperity descends in a 
shower of gold. 

Often he runs counter to son-in-law Hamil- 
ton — himself actively in the law — before 
judge and jury. When they are thus op- 
posed, each is the other's match for a care- 
ful but wintry courtesy. For all his courtesy, 
however, Aaron seldom fails to defeat son- 
in-law Hamilton in whatever litigation they 
are about. His vminterrupted victories over 
that young gentleman are an added reason 
for the latter's jealous hatred. He and his 
rusty father-in-law become doubly Aaron's 
foes, and grasp at every chance to do him 

And yet, that antagonism has its compen- 
sations. It brings Aaron into favor with 
Governor Clinton; it finds him allies among 
the Livingstons. The latter powerful family 
invite him into their politics. He thanks 
them, but declines. He is for the law; 
hungry to make money, he sees no profit 
but only loss in politics. 

In his gold-getting, Aaron is marvelously 
successful; and, as he rolls up riches, he 
buys land. Thus one proud day he becomes 
master of Richmond Hill, with its lawn 

sweeping down to the Hudson — Richmond 
Hill, where he played slave of the quill to 
Washington, and suffered in his vanity from 
the big General's loftily abstracted pose. 
Master of a mansion, he fills his libraries 
w'ith books and his cellars with wine. Thus 
he is never without good company, reading 
the one or sipping the other. The faded 
Theodosia presides over his house; and, 
because of her years or his lack of them, her 
manner toward him trenches upon the 

The household is a hive of happiness. 
Aaron, who takes the j^edagogue instinct 
from sire and grandsire, puts in his leisure 
drilling the small Prevost boys in their les- 
sons. He will have them talking Latin and 
reading Greek like little priests, before he is 
done with them. As for baby Theodosia, 
she reigns the chubby queen of all their 
hearts; it is to her credit, not theirs, that she 
isn't hopelessly spoiled. 

In his wine and his reading, Aaron's tastes 
take opposite directions. The books he 
likes are heavy, while his best-liked wines 
are light. He reads Jeremy Bentham; also 
he finds comfort in William Godwin and 
Mary WoUstonecraft. He adorns his study 
with a portrait of the latter lady; which feat 
in decoration furnishes the prudish a pang. 

These book-radicalisms and his weaknesses 
for alarming doctrines, social and political, 
do not help Aaron's standing with respectable 
hypocrites, of whom there are vast numbers, 
and who for its fashion and commerce and 
politics give the town a tone. These whited 
sepulchers of society purse discreet yet con- 
demnatory lips when Aaron's name is men- 
tioned, and speak of him as favoring " Ben- 
thamism" and "Godwinism." Our dullard 
pharisee folk know no more of '' Bentham- 






ism" or " Godwinism " in their derinitiojis, 
than of plant life in the planet Mars; Init 
their manner is the manner of ones wlio 
speak of crimes tenfold worse than mur- 

Aaron pays no heed; neither does he fret 
over the innuendoes of those hypocritical 
ones. He was born full of contempt for 
men's opinions, and has fostered and flat- 
tered it into a kind of cold passion. Occupied 
with the loved ones at Richmond Hill, careless 
to the point of blind and deaf concerning 
all outside, he seeks only to win lawsuits 
and pile up gold. And never once does his 
glance rove officeward. 

This anti-oflfice coolness is all on Aaron's 
side. He does not pursue office; but now 
and again office pursues him. Twice he 
goes to the Legislature; next Governor 
Clinton asks him to become attorney-general. 
As attorney-general he makes one of a 
commission, Governor Clinton at its head, 
which sells five and a half million acres of 
the public land for $1,030,000. The highest 
price received is three shillings an acre; 
the purchasers number six. The big sale is 
to Alexander Macomb, who is given a deed 
for three million six hundred thousand acres 
at eight pence an acre. The public howls 
over these surprising transactions in real es- 
tate. The popular anger, however, is leveled 
at Governor Clinton, he being a sort of 
Caesar. Aaron, who dwells more in the back- 
ground, escapes unscathed. 

While these several matters go forward, 
the nation adopts a constitution. Then it 
elects Washington, President, and sets up 
government-shop in New York. Aaron's 
part in these mighty doings is the quiet })arl. 
He does not think much of the Constitution, 
but. accepts it; he thinks less of Washington, 
but accepts him, too. It is within the rim 
of the possible that son-in-law Hamilton, 
sitting in Washington's Cabinet as Secretary 
.of the Treasury, hely)s the Administration 
to a lowest place in Aaron's esteem; for he 
is a priceless hater, and that feud is in no 
degree relaxed. 

When the national GoNcrnnient is born, 
the rusty General Schuyler and Kufus King 
are chosen senators ior New York. The rusty 
old General, in the little lottery which ensues, 
draws the short term. This in no wise 
weighs upon him. What difference should 
it make? At the close of that short term, 
he will be reelected for a full term of si.\ 
years. To assume otherwise would be i)rc- 

posterous, and the rusty old General feels 
no such short term uneasiness. 

Washington has two weaknesses: he loves 
flattery, and is a bad judge of men. Son-in- 
law Hamilton, because he flatters best, sits 
highest in the Washington esteem. He is the 
right arm of the big Virginian's Administra- 
tion, and is quite as confident as the rusty 
(ieneral Schuyler of that gentleman's re- 
election. Indeed, if he could be prevailed 
upon to answer cyueries so foolish, he would 
say that of all sure future things the re- 
election of the rusty General is surest. Not 
a cloud of doubt is seen in the skies of either. 

And yet there is one who, from his place 
as attorney-general, is watching that Senate 
seat as a tiger watches its prey. Noiselessly, 
yet none the less powerfully, Aaron gathers 
himself for the spring. Both his pride and 
his hate are involved in what he is about. 
To be a senator is to wear a proudest title 
in the land. In this instance to be a senator 
means a staggering blow to that Schuyler- 
Hamilton tribe whose foe he is. Also, it 
opens a pathw^ay to the injury of V\'ashington. 
He would be even for what long-ago war- 
slights the big General put upon him, slights 
which he neither forgets nor forgives. 
Aaron smiles a pale, thin-lipped smile as he 
pictures with the eye of rancorous imagina- 
tion the look which will spread across the 
face of Washington, when he hears of the 
rusty Schuyler's overthrow and him who 
brought that overthrow about. The smile 
is quick to die, however, for he who would 
strip his toga from the rusty Schuyler must 
not sit down to dreams and castle-building. 

Aaron goes silently >et sedulously about 
his plans. In their execution he foresees 
tliat many will be hurt; the stubborn outlook 
does not daunt him. One cannot make 
omelettes without breaking eggs. 

In his coming war with the rusty Schuyler, 
Aaron feels the need of two things; he must 
have an issue, and he must have allies. It 
is of vital importance to bring Governor 
Clinton to the shoulder of his ambitions. 
Tie looks that potentate over with a calculat- 
ing c\c. making a mental catalogue of his 
approachable points. 

i'he old Governor is of Irish blood and 
\ Irish temper. His ancestors were not the 
([uietest folk in Galway. Being of gun- 
])()wder stock, he dearly loves a foe, and 
will no more forget a feud than a favor. 
Aaron shows the old Governor that, in his 
own laic election, the Schuvler-Hamilton 



interest was slyly behind his opponent, 
Judge Yates, and nearly brought home 
victory for the latter. 

"You owe General Schuyler," says Aaron, 
"no help at this pinch. Still less are you in 
debt to Hamilton. It was the latter that 
put Yates in the field." 

"And yet," protests the old Governor 
— inclined to anger but not quite convinced — 
"and yet I saw no signs of either Schuyler 
or his son-in-law in the business." 

" Sir, that is their duplicity. One so open 
as yourself would be the last to discover 
such intrigues. The young fox Hamilton 
managed the affair; in doing so, he moved 
only in the dark, walked in all the running 
water he could find." 

What Aaron says is true; in the finish he 
gives proof to the old Governor. At that the 
latter's Irish blood begins to gather heat. 

"It is as you tell me!" he cries at last; 
"I can see it now! That West Indian 
renegate Hamilton was the bug under the 
Yates chip!" 

"And you must not forget, sir, that for 
every scheme of politics, ' Schuyler' and 
'Hamilton' are interchangeable." 

"You are right! When one pulls the 
other pushes. They are my enemies, and I 
shall not be less than theirs." 

The Governor asks Aaron what candidate 
they shall pitch upon to pit against the rusty 
Schuyler. Aaron has thus far said nothing 
of himself in any toga connection, fearing 
the old Governor may regard his thirty-six 
years as lacking a proper gravity. Being 
asked to suggest a name, he waxes discreet. 
He believes, he says, that the Livingstons 
can be prevailed upon to come out against 
the rusty Schuyler, if properly approached. 
Such approach can be more gracefully made 
if no name is pitched upon. 

"From your place, sir, as governor," 
observes the skillful Aaron, "you could 
not condescend to go in person to the Liv- 
ingstons. My position, however, is not so 
high nor my years so many as yours; I need 
not scruple to take up the matter with them. 
As to a candidate, I can go to them more 
easily if we leave the question open. I could 
tell the Livingstons that you would like a 
suggestion from them on that point. It 
would flatter their vanity." 

The old Governor is pleased to regard with 
favor the reasoning of Aaron. He remarks, 
too, that with him the candidate is not im- 
portant. The main thought is to defeat the 

rusty Schuyler, who, with son-in-law Hamil- 
ton, aforetime played the hypocrite, and 
pulled treacherous wires against him in 
the hope of compassing his defeat. He de- 
clares himself fjuite satisfied to let the Liv- 
ingstons select what fortunate one is to be 
the Senate successor of the rusty Schuyler. 
He urges Aaron to wait on the Livingstons 
without delay, and discover their feelings. 

Aaron confers with the Livingstons, and 
shows them many things. Mostly he shows 
them that, should he be cho.sen senator, it 
will necessitate his resignation as attorney- 
general. Also, he makes it appear that, if 
the old Governor be properly approached, 
he will name one Morgan Lewis to fill the 
vacancy thus arranged. The Livingston 
eye glistens; the mother of Morgan Lewis 
is a Livingston, and the oflice of attorney- 
general will match his fortunes nicely. 
Besides, there are several ways wherein an 
attorney-general might be of much Living- 
ston use. No; the Livingstons do not say 
these things. They say instead that none 
is more nobly equipped for the role of senator 
than Aaron. Finally, it is the Livingstons 
who go back to the old Governor. Nor do 
they find it difficult to convince him that 
Aaron is the one surest of defeating the rusty 

" Colonel Burr," say the Livingstons, 
"has no record, which is another way of 
saying that he has no enemies. We deem 
this most important. It will lessen the 
effort required to bring about him a majority 
of the Legislature." 

The old Governor, as Aaron feared, is 
inchned to shy at the not-too-many years 
of our ambitious one. After a bit, however, 
Aaron, as a notion, begins to grow upon him. 

"He has brains, sir," observes the old 
Governor, thoughtfully; "he has brains; 
and that is of more consequence than mere 
years. He has double the intelligence of 
Schuyler, although he may not count half 
his age. I call that to his credit, sir." 

The chief of the clan-Livingston shares 
the Chnton view. Now takes place a com- 
petition in encomium. Between the chief 
of the clan-Livingston and the old Governor, 
so many excellences are ascribed to Aaron 
that, did he own but the half, he might think 
himself a model for mankind. As for Mor- 
gan Lewis, who is a Livingston, the old 
Governor finds in him almost as many vir- 
tues as he does in Aaron. He gives the chief 
of the clan-Livinsston hand and word that, 



when Aaron steps out of the attorney-general- 
ship, Morgan Lewis shall step in. 

Having drawn to his support the two most 
powerful influences of the State, Aaron makes 
search for an issue. He looks into the mouth 
of the pubhc, and there it is. Politicians 
do not make issues, albeit many have sung 
otherwise. Indeed, issues are so much like 
poets that they are born, not made. Every 
age has its issue; and from it, as from Clay, 
the pohticians mold the bricks wherewith 
they build themselves into office. The issue 
is ever the question which the people ask; 
it is ever to be found in the popular mouth. 
That is where Aaron looks for it, and his 
quest is rewarded. 

The issue, so much demanded of Aaron's 
destinies, is one of those big-little questions 
which now and then arise to agitate the souls 
of folk and demonstrate the greatness of the 
small. There are twenty-eight members in 
the National Senate; and, since it is the first 
Senate and has had no predecessor, there 
exist no precedents for it to guide by. Also 
those twenty-eight senators are puffballs 
of vanity. On the first day of their first 
coming together they prove the purblind 
sort of their conceit by shutting their doors 
in the pubHc's face. They say they will 
hold their se^^sions in secret. The pubhc 
takes this action in dudgeon, and begins 
filing its teeth. 

Puffiest among those Senate puffballs is 
the rusty Schuyler. As narrow as he is arro- 
gant, and as dull as he is vain, his contempt 
for the herd was never a secret. As a senator 

he declares himself the guardian, not the 
ser\ant, of a jjeojile too weakly foolish for 
the safe transaction of their own affairs. 

It is against this self-sufficient attitude of 
the rusty Schuyler touching locked Senate 
doors that Aaron wages war. He urges 
that in a republic but two keys go with gov- 
ernment; one is to the treasury, the other 
to the jail. He declares that not even a 
senate will lock a door, unless it be either 
ashamed or afraid of what it is about. 

"Of what is our Senate afraid?" he asks. 
" Of what is it ashamed ? I cannot answer 
these questions; the people of the State 
cannot answer them. Under the circum- 
stances I recommend that those who are 
interested ask General Schuyler." 

The pubhc puts the questions to the rusty 
Schuyler. Not receiving an answer, the 
pubhc carries the questions to the Legisla- 
ture, where the Clinton and Livingston in- 
fluences come sharply to the popular back. 

"Shall the Senate lock its door?" 

The Clintons say, "No"; the Livingstons 
say, "No"; the people say, "No." Under 
such overbearing circumstances the Legisla- 
ture feels driven to say, "No"; and as a best 
method of saying it elects Aaron, who is a 
"door-opener," over the rusty Schuyler, 
who is a "door-closer," by a majority of 
thirteen on a whole vote of forty-eight. It 
is now no longer "Aaron Burr," no longer 
"Colonel Burr"; it is " Senator Burr." The 
news puts ten years on the rusty Schuyler. 
As for son-in-law Hamilton, the blasting 
word of it withers and makes sick his heart. 

{To he continued) 


(F}-o>it Victor Hugo) 



OD'S bird be thou, 

That trusts the frailest bough 

And gaily sings, 

Knowing that he hath wings. 


The Four-Track. Ntus 


A Tragic Story of Perverted Genius 
Bv L. K. Becker 

, came out of the United States 
army in 1779 certain of a distin- 
guished career. Licensed to practice 
law in 1782, he hastened to claim the 
widow he had won and to set up 
housekeeping in 

Gen. Alexan- 
der Hamilton 
had married also 
and established 
himself in the 
same city ; side 
by side these 
brilliant young 
m en of the 
young Nation 
were destined to 
run their race to 
doom ; for the ruin of Burr dates 
from the death of Hamilton. 

Burr rose rapidly in favor; remov- 
ing in '84 to the larger field of New 
York, though serving the state for 
several years as representative and 
attorney-general. He lived in a com- 
modious house in Maiden Lane, a 
very busyman, but neglecting neither 
the state, his clients, nor his house- 

Aaron Burr 



at Varick and 

Charlton streets, was the home most 
associated with Aaron BtuT. It v.-as 
a handsome residence, set in a hun- 
dred acres of dale and woodland, 
two miles from town; a place where 
a gentleman might live in quiet 
elegance. There were picturesque 
views of the Jersey vShore, and the 
North River flowed past the foot of 
the garden. The house was attract- 
ive; it had an air of repose, as 
though the habits of a scholar per- 
tained to it, which was true. A 
noble library was a distinguishing 
feature. Aaron Burr loved books 
and found solace in them all his life; 
scarcely a packet ship entered the 

harbor for years that did not bring a 
consignment of books to him. 

The hospitality of the Burr house 
was unlimited; the manners of the 
host were of the Chesterfield order. 
Distinguished guests were often en- 
tertained; statesmen, judges, bishops 
and, among foreigners, Talleyrand, 
Louis Philippe and Jerome Bona- 

The LTnited States senatorship 
launched Burr upon a turbulent 
political sea, and Richmond Hill with 
its handsome appointments, its 
retinue of servants and its lavish 
hospitality began to bear heavily 
upon the income of its master, Avho 
was absent much of the time. The 

The I lamilton-Hurr Diu.-l MotuiiiK'nt, 
at Wochawkcn 

Inscription: "Upon this stone rested the head 
of the patriot, soldier, statesman and jurist, Ale.v- 
under Hamilton, after the duel with Aaron I'.iirr; 
louLjht July nth, 1804." 

The Four-Track News 


The H.-B. Dueling Pistols 

emoluments of public office were not 

equal to those of professional service, 

and debts began to accumulate. 

Then came the death of Madam Burr, 

an irreparable 

loss to her 


In 1800 Burr 

was chosen 


and his restless 

soul was fired 

anew. Know- 
ing neither 

counsel nor 

restraint, he 

resolved that 

nothing should 

bar his way to 

desired victory and, later, there 

came a day when Alexander Hamilton 

represented everything that stood in 

his path. 

Richmond Hill was never lovelier 

than when Col. Burr left it, early on 

the morning of July nth, 1804, just 
a century ago, to fulfill an appoint- 
ment at Weehawken ; an appointment 
that deprived the United States of 
its foremost statesman, filled the 
American people with sorrow and 
indignation and blasted forever the 
name and fame of Aaron Burr. 

A few hours later he was discov- 
ered in his library, calmly perusing 
a classic, though the city was plunged 
in grief over his morning's work. 

Before the day was over, Col. Burr 
was a fugitive, and Richmond Hill 
knew him no more as a master. Be- 
fore the end of his term 
of office he was tried for 
treason by our highest 
tribunal and, though 
acquitted, was branded 
with obloquy, from 
which he attempted to 
escape by seeking for- 
eign lands. 

But the gods were 
angry and would not be 

For seven years Aaron 
Burr was a wanderer in 
Europe, driven from country to 
country, though forbidden to return 
to his own. When a reluctant per- 
mission was finally obtained he came 

under an assumed name. Reaching 
Boston almost penniless he remained 
all night, the sole occupant of the 
ship that brought him. On the 
morrow he obtained a few 
dollars from the sale of some 
books he had with him and, 
setting out for New York, 
after a hazardous voyage, 
he landed at the dead of 
night and was glad of a 
humble shelter until day- 
light. Debts menaced the 
( x-vice-president, and pris- 
ons yawned, but nothing 
disturbed him, for his 
daughter, Theodosia, was en 
route to meet him. Alas! 
The ship on which she sailed 
never entered port, and no tidings 
of her ever reached her father's ears. 
Professional practice among petty 
offenders, for twenty years, main- 
tained the broken old man in his 
fallen estate. 

Occasionally the old fire flashed, 
and on one such occasion jMadam 
Jumel was led to employ him as her 
solicitor. So satisfied was the lady 
with his services that she invited his 
acquaintance, Avhich resulted in their 
marriage. But it was not long before 
a rupture occurred between the 
couple on account of the disappear- 
ance of certain bonds and money 
belonging to the lady. 
--r- The last act of the drama 

';j was at hand; paralysis laid 

the old man low. A gen- 
erous woman, learning 
his condition, 
t o o k h i m 
home and 
to him as 
though she 
had been his 

At the very 
last, n o t- 
he ha d ab- 
jured their 
faith and 
precepts, he requested to be laid 
beside his parents in his native 
Princeton. There, consigned to the 
tender care of Nature, repose the 

Burial Place of Alexander Hamilton 
in Old Trinity Churchyard 


ashes of ambition, 
Aaron Burr. 

The Four-Track News 

once known as 

" A hi^h born nature nobly planned 
Great ends to serve and to command; 
Heedless of God, despising man, 

He lived but for himself alone 
And ruin wrouj^ht, which as it ran 

O'ertook him, who but self had known." 

The Jumel Mansion still clings 
to the cliff overlooking its ancient 
manor and summons both romance 
and history to substantiate its claims 
to fame. Like the octogenarian 

bridegroom, the 
not averse to 
beneath its roof 

old mansion is 
notoriety. And, 
it has sheltered 
the beautiful and 
the illustrious of more than one 
country besides our own, one fact is 
never omitted in a description of the 

place : ' ' This was once the residence 
of Aaron Burr." 

In justice it might be added: 

The Famous Old Jumel Mansion 

''He, too, 
olution. " 

was a Soldier of the Rev- 


One of the features of the Califor- 
nia exhibit at the St. Louis Fair is 
the exact reproduction of the first 
jail erected in the state, or upon the 
Pacific Coast. The building is of 
rude design and is built of cobble- 
stone set in adobe mud. It stands 
at Old Town, as Old San Diego is 
now called, and is in a very good 
state of preservation to-day, after 
standing more than 
a century and a 

An interesting in- 
cident connected ^"PB^. 
with the jail is the 
fact that its builder 
was the first prisoner to be confined 
in the institution. He was also the 
first — though by no means the last 
— to break through the walls to pre- 
mature freedom. 

The contractor received $5,000 for 
constructing the rude affair, a sum, 
even in those days of high prices, 
seemingly entirely out of proportion 
to the article furnished. Upon re- 
ceiving the money he proceeded to 
celebrate the completion of the job 
by getting drunk and raising an un- 

usual disturbance. He was arrested, 
brought before the justice and was 
sentenced to a period of confinement 
in the bastile of his own constructing. 
Having built the jail the prisoner 
knew its peculiarities, and, therefore, 
wdien the judge entered a drinking 
resort for a little stimulant at the 
close of his day's officiating, the first 
person he met was the jail-builder, 
whom he had so re- 
cently sentenced to 
re ti r e men t from 
San Diego society. 
"Why, Bill, how 
is this?" exclaimed 
the astonished mag- 
istrate. "I thought vou were in 

"Oh! stdi) your foolishness," cried 
Bill, "and come and have a drink." 
Tradition says that the judge ac- 
cepted the invitation and that Bill 
did not return to his cell. It is 
stated, however, that tlie jail was 
ordered repaired and that the 
escaped prisoner received an addi- 
tional fee from the county for 
fixing the hole he had made in secur- 
ino- his freedom. 

" SilvcM- and ^old arc not llie only coin; virtue too passes 
current all over the world."— Euripides 





T is evening at the White 
House. The few dinner guests 
have departed, and Jefferson is 
alone in his study. As he 
C^ stands at the open window and 
gazes out across the sweep of 
lawn to the Potomac, shining 
like silver in the rays of the full 
May moon, his face shows cloudy and angry. 
The face of the sage of Monticello has put 
aside its usual expression of philosophy. In 
place of the calm that should reign there, the 
look which prevails is one of narrowness, 
prejudice and wrathful passion. 

Apparently he waits the coming of a visitor, 
for he wheels without surprise as a fashion- 
ably dressed gentleman is ushered in by a 

"Ah, Wirt!" he cries; "be seated, please. 
You got my note?" 

William Wirt is thirty-five — a clean, well- 
bred figure of the conventional Virginia gen- 
tleman. He accepts the proffered chair, but 
with the manner of one only half at ease, as 
not altogether liking the reason of his WTiite 
House presence. 

"Your note, Mr. President?" he repeats. 
" Oh, yes, I received it. \\Tiat you propose is 
highly flattering. And yet — and yet " 

"And yet what, sir?" breaks in Jefferson 
impatiently. "Surely, I propose nothing 
unusual? You are practicing at the Rich- 
mond bar. I ask you to conduct the case 
against Colonel Burr." 

" Nothing unusual of course," returns Wirt, 
who, gifted of a keen political eye, hungrily 
foresees a final attorney-generalship in what 
he is about. " And yet, as I was about to say, 
there are matters which should be considered. 
There is George Hay, for instance; he is the 
Government's attorney for the Richmond dis- 
trict. It is his province as well as duty to 
prosecute Colonel Burr; he might resent my 
being saddled upon him. Have vou thought 
ofjSIr. Hay?" 

"Thought of him? Hay is a dullard, a 
blockhead, a respectable nonentity! — no 
more fit to contend with Colonel Burr and 
those whom he will have about him than 
would be a sucking babe! He is of no cour- 
age, no force, sir; he seems to think that, as 
the son-in-law of James Monroe, he has done 
quite enough to merit success in both law and 
politics. No; there is much depending on 
this trial, and I desire you to try it. Burr 
must be convicted. The black Federal plot 
to destroy this Republic and set a monarchy 
in its stead, a plot of which he is but a single 




figure, must be nipped in the bud. Also, you 
will find that I am to be on trial as much as 
Colonel Burr. The case will not be 'The 
People against Aaron Burr,' but 'The Fed- 
eralists against Thomas Jefferson.' Do you 
understand? I am the object of a Federal 
plot, as much as is the Government itself! 
John Marshall, that arch Federalist, will be 
on the bench, doing all he can for the plotters 
and their instrument, Colonel Burr. It is no 
time to risk myself on so slender a support as 
George Hay. It is you who must conduct 
this cause." 

Wirt is a bit scandalized by this outburst; 
especially at the reckless dragging in of Chief 
Justice Marshall. He expostulates; but is 
too much the courtier to let any harshness 
creep into either his manner or his speech. 

"You surely do not mean to say," he be- 
gins, " that the Chief Justice " 

" I mean to say," interrupts Jefferson, " that 
you must be ready to meet every trick that 
Marshall can play against the Government. 
For all his long robe, is he of different clay 
than any other? Believe me, he's a Federal- 
ist long before he's a Judge! I>ct me ask a 
(|uestion or two. Why did Marsluill, the 
Chief Justice mind you, hokl the preliminary 
examination of Burr? Why, having held it, 
did he not commit him for treason ? Why did 
he hold him only for a misdemeanor, and 

admit him to bail? Does that not look as 
though Marshall had taken possession of the 
case in Burr's intere.;t ? You spoke a moment 
ago of the propriety of Hay prosecuting the 
charge against Burr, being, as he is, the Gov- 
ernment's attorney for that district. Does it 
not occur to you that his honor, Judge Griffin, 
is the iudge for that district ? And yet Mar- 
shall shoves him aside to make room on the 
l^ench for himself. Sir, there is chicanery in 
this. We must watch Marshall. A Chief 
Justice indeed! A Chief Federalist rather! 
Why, he so much lacked self-respect as to 
become a guest at a dinner given in Colonel 
Burr's honor, after he had committed that 
traitor in ten thousand dollars bail! An ex- 
cellent, a dignified Chief Justice truly! — 
doing dinner-table honor to one whom he 
must presently try for a capital offence!" 

"Justice Marshall's appearance at the 
Burr dinner" — Wirt makes the admission 
doubtfully — "was not, I admit, in the very 
flower of good taste. None the less, I should 
infer honesty rather than baseness from such 
appearance. If he contemplated any wrong 
in Colonel Burr's favor, he would have re- 
mained away. Coming to the case itself," 
continues Wirt, anxious to avoid further 
discussion of Judge Marshall, as a topic 
whereon he and Jefferson are n(^t likely to 
agree, "what is the specific act of treason 
with which the Government charges Colonel 

"The conspiracy wherein he was prime 
mover aimed first to take Mexico from the 
Spanish. Having taken Mexico, the plotters 
— Colonel Burr at the head — purposed seizing 
New Orleans. That would give them a hold 
in the vast region drained by the Mississippi. 
Everything west of the Alleghanies was ex- 
pected to ilock 'round their standards. With 
an empire reaching from Daricn to the Great 
Lakes, from the Pacific to the Alleghanies, 
their final move was to be upon Washington 
itself. Sir, the Federalists hate this Republic 
— have always hated it! What they desire is a 
monarchy. They want a king, not a presi- 
dent, in the White House." 

"I learn," observes Wirt, " — I learn, since 
my arrival, that Colonel Burr has been in 

"That was three days ago. He demanded 
co])ies of my orders to Ciencral \\'iikinson. 
When I ])revented his obtaining them, he said 
he would move for a subpania duces tecum, 
addressed to me personally. Think of that, 
sir! Can you conceive greater impudence? 



He will sue out a subpcrna aj^ainst the Presi- 
dent of this country, and compel him to come 
into court bringin<r the archives of Govern- 

Wirt shrugs his shoulders. " And why not, 
sir?" he asks at last. "In the eye of the law 
a president is no more sacred than a path- 
master. A murder might be committed in 
the White House grounds. You, looking 
from that window, might chance to witness it 
— miglit, indeed, ])e the only witness. You, 
yourself, are a lawyer, Mr. President. You 
will not tell me that an innocent man, accused 
of murder, is to be denied your testimony ? — 
that he is to hang rather than ruflfle a presi- 
dential dignity? What is the difference be- 
tween the case I've supposed and that against 
Colonel Burr? He is to be charged with 
treason, you say! Very well; treason is a 
hanging matter as much as murder." 

Jefferson and Wirt, step by step, go over 
the arrest of Aaron and what led to it. It is 
settled that Wirt shall lead for the prosecu- 
tion. Also, when the Grand Jury is struck, 
he must see to it that Aaron is indicted for 

" ISIarshall has confined the inquiry," says 


Jefferson, "to what Burr contemplated 
against Mexico — a mere misdemeanor! You, 
Wirt, must have the Grand Jury take up that 
part of the conspiracy which was leveled 




against this country. There is abundant 
testimony. Burr talked it to Eaton in Wash- 
ington, to Morgan in Ohio, to Wilkinson at 
Fort Massac." 

" You speak of his talking treason," returns 
Wirt, with a thoughtful, non-committal air. 
" Did he an\nvhere or on any occasion ad it ? 
Was there any overt act of war ?" 

" WTiat should you call the doings at Blen- 
nerhasset Island?— the gathering of armed 
men and stores?— the boat - building at 
Marietta and Nashville? Are not those, 
taken with the intention, hostile acts? — overt 
acts of war?" 

Wirt falls into deep study. " We must," he 
says after a moment's silence, "leave those 
questions, I fear, for Justice Marshall to 

Jefferson relates how he has written Gov- 
ernor Pinckney of South Carolina advising 
the arrest of Alston. 

" To be sure, Alston is not so bad as Colo- 
nel Burr," he observes, "for the reason that 
he is not so big as Colonel Burr; just as a 

young rattlesnake is not so venomous as an 
old one." Then, impressively: "Wirt, Colo- 
nel Burr is a dangerous man ! He will find his 
place in history as the Catiline of America." 

Wirt cannot hide a smile: "It is but fair 
you should say so, Mr. President, since at the 
Richmond hearing he spoke of you as a 
presidential Jack Cade." Seeing that Jeffer- 
son does not enjoy the reference, Wirt hastens 
to another subject. " Colonel Burr will have 
formidable counsel. Aside from Wickham, 
and Botts, and Edmund Randolph, across 
from Maryland will come Luther Martin." 

"Luther Martin!" cries Jefferson. "So 
they're to unloose that Federal bulldog 
against me! But then the whisky-swilling 
beast is never sober." 

"No more safe as an adversary for that," 
retorts Wirt. "If I am ever called upon to 
write Luther Martin's epitaph, I shall make 
it, ' Ever drunk and ever dangerous!' " 

On the bench sits Chief Justice Marshall — 
tall, slender, eyes as black as Aaron's own, 




face high, dignified, brow nohle, full, the 
whole man breathing distinction. By his 
side, like some small thing lost in shadow, no 
one noticing him, no one addressing him, a 
picture of silent huniilitv, sits District Judge 

For the Government comes Wirt, sneering, 
harsh — as cold and hard and fine and keen as 
thrice tempered steel. With him is Hay — 
slow, pompous, of much respectability and 
dull weakness. Assisting Wirt and Hay, and 
filling a minor place, is one McRae. 

Leading for the defence is Aaron himself — 
confident, unshaken. Already he has begun 
to re-lay his plans of Mexican conquest. He 
assures Blennerhasset, who is with him, that 
the present interruption should mean no 
more than a time-waste of six months. With 
Aaron sit Edmund Randolph, the local 
Nestor; Wickham — clear, sure of law and 
fact; and Botts, the Bayard of the Richmond 
bar. Most formidable is Aaron's rear guard, 
the thunderous Luther Martin — coarse, fu- 
rious, fearless — gay clothes stained and soiled 

— rufiics foul and grimy — eyes fierce, bleary, 
bloodshot — nose bulbous, red as a carbuncle 
— a hoarse, roaring, threatening voice — the 
Thersites of the hour. Never sober, he rolls 
into court as drunk as a Plantagenet. Ever 
dangerous, he reads, hears, sees everything, 
and forgets nothing. Quick, rancorous, 
headlong as a fighting bull, he lowers his 
horns against Wirt whenever that polished 
one j)uts himself within forensic reach. Also, 
for all his cool, sneering skill, Toreador Wirt 
never meets the charge squarely, but steps 
aside from it. 

Apropos of nothing, as Martin takes his 
place by the trial table, he roars out: 

" Why is this trial ordered for Richmond ? 
Why is it not heard in Washington ? It is by 
command of Jefferson, sir. He thinks that in 
his own State of Virginia, where he is invinci- 
ble and Colonel Burr a stranger, the name of 
Jefferson will compel a verdict of guilt. 
There is fairness for you!" 

Wirt glances across, but makes no response 
to the tirade; for Martin, purple of face. 




snorting ferociously, seems only waiting a 
word from him to utter more and worse 

The Grand Jury is chosen: foreman, John 
Randolph of Roanoke — sour, inimical, hate- 
ful, voice high and spiteful like the voice of a 
scolding woman. The Grand Jury is sent to 
its room to deliberate concerning indict- 
ments, while the court adjourns for the day. 

It is well into the evening when the parties 
in interest leave the court room. As Wirt and 
Hay, arm in arm, are crossing the Court 
House green, they become aware of an 
orator who, loud of tone and careless of his 
English, is addressing a crowd from the steps 
of a corner grocery. Just as the two arrive 
within ear-shot, the orator — lean, hawk-like 
of face — tosses aloft a rake-handle arm, and 

" \^"hen Jefferson says that Colonel Burr is 
a traitor, Jefferson lies in his throat!" 

The crowd applaud enthusiastically. Hay 
looks at Wirt. 

" Who is the fellow ?" he asks. 

" Oh ! he's a swash-buckler militia general," 
returns Wirt carelessly. "He's a low fellow, 
I'm told; his name is Andrew Jackson. He 
was one of Colonel Burr's confederates. 
They say he's the greatest blackguard in 

Just now, did some Elijah touch the 
Wirtian elbow and tell of a day to come when 
he, Wirt, will be driven to resign that coveted 
attorney -generalship into the presidential 
hands of the "blackguard," who will receive 
it promptly, and dismiss him into private life, 
no more than half-thanked for what public 
service he has rendered, that ambitious Vir- 
ginian would hold the soothsayer to be a 
madman, not a prophet. 

Scores upon scores of witnesses are sent 
one by one to the Grand Jury. The days run 
into weeks. Every hour the question is 
asked: Where is Wilkinson? The red-nosed 
one is strangely, exasperatingly absent. 

Wirt seeks to explain that absence. The 
journey is long, he says. He will pledge his 
honor for the red-nosed one's appearance. 

Meanwhile, the friends of Aaron pour in 
from' North and West and South. The stub- 
born, faithful Swartwout is there, with his 
brother Samuel; for Samuel Swartwout and 
young Ogden and Adair and HoUman, shi])ped 
aforetime per schooner to Baltimore by the 
red-nosed one as traitors, have been declared 
innocent, and are all in Richmond attending 
upon their chief. 

One morning the whisj^er goes about that 
"Wilkinson has come." Later, the whisi)er 
is confirmed by the red-nosed one's appear- 
ance in court. Young Washington Irving, 
who has come down from New ^'ork in the 
interest of Aaron, writes as follows concern- 
ing the advent of the red-nosed one: 

Wilkinson strutted into court and took his 
stand in a parallel line with Colonel Burr. 
Here he stood for a moment swelling like a 
turkey-copk and bracing himself to meet 
Colonel Burr's eye. The latter took no notice 
of him until Judge Marshall directed the clerk 
to " swear General Wilkinson." At the men- 
tion of the name, Colonel Burr turned and 
looked him full in the face with one of his 
piercing regards, swept him from licad to foot, 
and then went on conversing with his counsel 
as before. The whole look was over in a mo- 
ment ; and yet it was admirable. There was 
no appearance of study or constraint, no af- 
fectation of disdain or defiance ; only a slight 
expression of contempt played across the coun- 
tenance, such as one might show on seeing a 
person whom one considers mean and vile. 

That evening Samuel Swartwout meets the 
red-nosed one, as the latter is strutting on the 
walk for the admiration of men, and thrusts 
him into a mud-hole. The lean Jackson is so 
delighted at this disposition of the red-nosed 
one that he clasps the warlike Swartwout in 
his rake-handle arms. Later, by twenty-two 
years, he will make him collector of the port 
of New York for it. Just now, however, he 
advises a duel, holding the mud-hole episode 
to be otherwise incomj)lete. 

Since Swartwout has had the duel in his 
mind from the beginning, he and the lean 
Jackson combine in the production of a chal- 
lenge, which is duly sent to the red-nosed one 
in the name of Swartwout. The red-nosed 
one has no heart for duels, and crawls from 
under the challenge by saying, "I refuse to 
hold communication with a traitor." There- 
upon Swartwout, with the lean Jackson to 
aid him, again lapses into the clerical, and 
prints the following gorgeous outburst in the 
Richmond Gazette: 

Brigadier Gener.\l Wilkinson: 

Sir : When once the chain of infamy grapples 
to a knave, every new link creates a fresh sensa- 
tion of detestation and horror. As it gradually 
or precipitately unfolds itself, we behold in each 
succeeding coiuieclion and arising from the same 
corrupt and contaminated snurce, the same 
base and degenerated conduct. 1 could not 
have supposed that you would have completed 
the catalogue of your crimes by adding to the 
guilt of treachery, forgery and perjury the ac- 
complishment of cowardice. Having failed in 



two different attempts 
to procure an inter- 
view with you, such 
as no gentleman of 
lionor could refuse, 
I have only to pro- 
nounce and publish 
you to the world as 
a coward. 
Samuel Swartwout. 

The Grand Jur\- 
comes into court, and 
by the shrill mouth 
of Foreman Ran- 
dolph reports two 
indictments against 
Aaron: one for trea- 
son, ''as having 
levied war against 
the United States," 
and one for " having 
levied war upon a 
country, to wit, 

Mexico, with which the United States was 
at peace" — the latter a misdemeanor. 



THE indictments are read, and Aaron 
pleads "Not guilty!" Thereupon 
Luther Martin moves for a sub- 
pcciia duces tecum against Jefferson, com- 
manding him to bring into court those 
written orders from the files of the War De- 
partment, which he, as president and ex- 
officio commander-in-chief of the armv, 
issued to the red-nosed Wilkinson. Arguing 
the motion, the violent Martin proceeds in 
these words: 

We intend to show that these orders were 
contrary to the Constitution and the laws. We 
intend to show that by these orders Colonel 
Burr's property and person were to be de- 
stroyed ; yes, by these tyrannical orders the 
life and property of an innocent man were to 
be exposed to destruction. This is a peculiar 
case, sirs. President Jefferson has undertaken 
to pre-judge my client, by declaring that "of 
his guilt there can be no doubt ! " He has 
assumed to himself the knowledge of the Su- 
preme Being, and pretended to search the 
heart of my client. He has proclaimed him a 
traitor in the face of the country. He has 
let slip the dogs of war, the hell-hounds of per- 
secution, to hunt down my client. And, now, 
would the President of the United States, who 

has himself raised all 
this clamor, pretend 
to keep back the 
papers wanted for a 
trial where life itself 
is at stake? It is a 
sacred principle that 
the accused has a 
right to the evidence 
needed for his de- 
fence. And whoso- 
ever — whether he be 
President or some less- 
er man — withholds 
such evidence is sub- 
stantially a murderer, 
and will be so re- 
corded in the register 
of heaven. 

Argument ended, 
Marshall, Chief Jus- 
tice, sustains the 
motion. He holds 
that the suhpxna 
duces tecum may is- 
sue, and goes so far as to say that, if it 
be necessary to the ends of justice, the per- 
sonal attendance of Jefferson himself shall 
be compelled. 

The charge is treason, and no bail can be 
taken; Aaron must be locked up. The 
Governor of Virginia offers as a place of 
detention a superb suite of rooms, meant for 
official occupation, on the third floor of the 
penitentiar)^ building. Marshall, Chief Jus- 
tice, accepting such proffer, orders Aaron's 
confinement in the superb official suite. 
Aaron takes possession, stocks the larder, 
loads the sideboards, and, with a cloud of ser- 
vitors, gives a dinner party to twenty friends. 
The lustrous Theo arrives, and takes up 
her residence with Aaron in the official 
suite, as lady of the establishment. Each day 
a hundred visitors call, among them the aris- 
tocracy of the town. Also dinner follows 
dinner; the official suite assumes a gala, not 
to say a gallant, look, and no one would think 
it a prison, or dream for one urbane moment 
that Aaron — our follower of the gospel 
according to Lord Chesterfield — is fighting 
for his life. 

Following the order for the subpoena duces 
tecum, and Aaron's dinner-giving incarcera- 
tion in the official suite, ^Larshall, Chief Jus- 
tice, directs that the court be adjourned until 
August — a month away. 

Wirt, during the vacation, goes over to 
Washington. He finds Jefferson in a mood 
of double anger. 


"What did I tell vou," cries Jefferson, 
" —what did I tell you of Marshall ? " Then 
he rushes on to the utterances of the violent 
Luther Martin. ''Shall you not move," he 
demands, "to commit Martin as particeps 
criminis with Colonel Burr? There should 
be evidence to fix upon him misprision of 
treason at least. At any rate, such a step 
would put down our impudent Federal bull- 
dog, and show that the most clamorous 
defenders of Colonel Burr are one and all his 

Meanwhile, the "impudent Federal hull- 
dog" attends a Fourth of July dinner in Balti- 
more. Every man at table save himself is an 
adherent of JetTerson. Eager to demonstrate 
that loyal fact to the Administration, sundry 
of the guests make speeches full of uncom- 
pliment for Martin, and propose a toast: 

"Aaron Burr! May his treachery to his 
country e.xalt him to the scalTold!" 

More speeches replete of venom are aimed 
at Martin; whereupon that undaunted 
drunkard gets upon his feet. 

"Who is this Aaron Burr," he roars, 
"whose guilt you have pronounced, and for 
whose blood your parched throats so thirst! 
Was he not, a few years back, adored by 
you next to your God? Were you not then 
his warmest admirers? Did he not then 
possess every virtue ? He was then in power. 
He had influence. You were proud of his 
notice. His merest smile brightened all your 
faces. His merest frown lengthened all your 
visages. Go, ye holiday, ye sunshine friends! — 
ye time-servers, ye criers of hosanna to-day 
and crucitiers to-morrow! — go; hide your 
heads from the contempt and detestation of 
everv honorable, every right-minded man!" 

August: The day of trial arrives. Wirt, 
with the dull, deferentHay, has gone over the 
testimony against Aaron, and arranged the 
procession of its introduction. He will begin 
far back. Bv the mouth of the red-nosed 
Wilkinson — st)mewhat in hiding from Swart- 
wout — and bv others, he will relate, from the 
beginning, Aaron's dream of Mexican con- 



quest. He will show how the 
vision grew and expanded until it 
reacted upon the United States, 
and the downfall of Washington 
became as much parcel of Aaron's 
design as was the capture of 
Mexico. He would trace Aaron, 
step by step, through his many 
conferences in Washington, in 
Marietta, in Nashvilic, in Cincin- 
nati ; and then on to New Orleans, 
where he is closeted with Mer- 
chant Clark and the Bishop of 

And so the parties go into court. 
The jury being sworn, Marshall, 
Chief Justice, at once overthrows 
those well-laid plans of Wirt. 

"You must go to the act, sir," 
says Marshall, Chief Justice. 
"Treason, like murder, is an act. 
You can't think treason, you can't 
plot treason, you can't talk trea- 
son; vou can only act it. In 
murder you must first prove the 
killing — the murderous act, be- 
fore you may offer evidence of 
an intent. And so in treason. 
You must begin by proving the 
overt act of war against the country, before I 
can permit evidence of an intent which led 
up to it." 

This ruling throws Wirt abroad in his cal- 
culations. The "Federal bulldog" Martin 
grows vulgarly gleeful, Wirt correspondingly 

Being prodded by Marshall, Chief Justice, 
Wirt declares that the "act of war" was the 
assembling of forty armed men, under one 
Taylor, at Blennerhasset Island. They 
stopped at the island but a moment, and 
Aaron himself was in Lexington. None the 
less there were forty of them; they were 
armed; they were there by design and plan of 
Aaron, with an ultimate purpose of levying 
waragainst this Government. Wirturgesthat 
constructive war was at that very island 
moment waged; Aaron, while personally 
absent, being constructively present and con- 
structively waging such war. 

At this setting forth, Marshall, Chief Jus- 
tice, purses his lips, as might one who thinks 
the argument far-fetched and over-finely 
spun. Martin, the " Federal bulldog," docs 
not scruple to laugh outright. 

" Was ever heard such hash ! " cries Martin. 
"Men may bear arms without waging war! 


Forty men no more mean war than four! 
Men mav float down the Ohio, and still no 
war be waged. Because the hypochondriac 
Jefferson imagined war, we are to receive the 
thing as res adjiidicata, and now give way 
while a pleasantly concocted tale of that car- 
nage of a presidential nightmare is retailed 
from the witness box. Sirs, you are not to 
fiddle folk onto a scaffold to any such tune as 
that, though a president furnish the music." 

Marshall, Chief Justice, still with pursed 
lips and knotted forehead, directs Wirt to 
proceed with his evidence of what at Blenner- 
hasset Island he relies upon to constitute, 
constructively or otherwise, a state of war. 
Having heard the evidence, he will pass upon 
the points of law presented. 

Wirt, desperate because he may do no 
better, puts forward one Eaton as a witness. 
The latter tells a long, involved story, which 
sounds vastly like fiction and not at all like 
fact, of conversations with Aaron. Aaron 
brings out in cross-examination, that within 
ten days after he, Eaton, goes with this tale to 
Jefferson, a claim for ten thousand dollars 
which he has been pressing without success 
against the Government was paid. Aaron 
suggests that Eaton, to induce payment of 



such claim, invented his narrative, and the 
suggestion is plainly acceptable to the jury. 

Following Eaton, Wirt calls Truxton; and 
later the suspicious Morgan, who first wrote 
Jefferson touching Aaron and his plans. 
Then follow Blennerhasset's gardener and 
groom, and one Woodbridge, Blennerhas- 
set's man of business. Wirt, by these, 
shows Aaron's frequent presence on the 
island; the boats, building at Marietta; the 
advent of Taylor with his forty armed men; 
and there the relation ends. In all the testi- 
mony, not a knife is ground, not a flint is 
picked, not a rifle is fired; the forty armed 
men do not so much as indulge in drill. For 
all they said or did or acted, the forty might 
have been explorers or sightseers or settlers 
or any other form of peaceful what-not. 

"I suppose," observes Marshall, Chief 
Justice, bending his black eyes warningly 
upon Wirt, " — I suppose it unnecessary to 
instruct counsel that guilt will not be pre- 

Wirt replies stiffly that counsel, for the 
Government at least, require no instruc- 
tions; whereat Martin, the " Federal bulldog," 
barks hoarsely up, that what counsel for 
Government most require, and are most 
deficient in, is a case and the evidence of it. 
Wirt pays no heed to the jeer, but announces 
that under the ruling of the court, made be- 
fore evidence was introduced, he has nothing 
more to offer touching acts of overt war. He 
rests his case, he says, on that point; and, 
thereupon, the defence takes issue with him. 
The Government, Aaron declares, has failed 
to make out even the shadow of a treason. 
There is nothing which demands reply; he 
will call no witnesses. 

Marshall, Chief Justice, directs that the 
arguments to the jury be proceeded with. 
Wirt is heard. Being imaginative, and 
having no facts, he unchains his fancy, and 
paints a paradise whereof Aaron is the ser- 
pent, and Blennerhasset and his moon- 
visaged spouse are Adam and Eve. It is a 
beautiful picture, and might be effective did 
it carry any grain of truth. However, it is 
well received by the jury as a romance full of 
entertaining glow and glitter; and then put 
aside from consideration. While Wirt the 
fanciful is thus coloring his invented paradise, 
with Aaron as the evil one and the Blenner- 

hassets the betrayed Adam and Eve, the 
"betrayed" Blennerhasset, sitting by Aaron's 
side, is reading the "serpent" one a letter, 
that day received from Madam Blennerhas- 
set. The missive closes: 

"Apprise Colonel Burr of my warmest 
acknowledgments for his own and Theo's 
kind remembrances. Tell him to assure her 
that she has inspired me with a warmth of 
attachment that never can diminish." 

On the oratorical heels of Wirt come Wick- 
ham, Hay, Randolph, Botts, McRae. Lastly, 
Martin is heard, the "Federal bulldog" 
seizing occasion to bay Jefferson even 
more violently than before. WTien they are 
done, Marshall, Chief Justice, lays down the 
law as to what should constitute an "overt 
act of w'ar"; and, since it is plain, even to the 
court crier, that no such act has been proven, 
the jury hurrv forward a finding of: 

"Not guilty!" 

Jefferson, full of prejudice, hears the news. 
He writes wrathfully to Wirt: 

"Let no witness depart without taking a 
copy of his evidence, which is now more 
important than ever. The criminal Burr is 
preserved, it seems, to become the rallying- 
point of all the disaffected and worthless of 
the United States, and to be the pivot on 
which all the conspiracies and intrigues, that 
foreign Governments may wish to disturb us 
with, are to turn. There is still, however, the 
misdemeanor; and, if he be convicted of 
that. Judge Marshall must for very decency 
give us some respite by a short confinement 
of him; but we must expect it to be very 

There is a day's recess; then the charge of 
"levying war against Mexico" is called. 
The red-nosed Wilkinson now tells his story, 
and is made to admit — the painful sweat 
standing in great drops upon his purple 
visage— that he has altered in important 
respects several of Aaron's letters. Being by 
his own mouth a forger, the jury marks its 
estimate of the red-nosed one by again acquit- 
ting Aaron, and pronouncing a second finding 

"Not guilty!" 

Thus ends the great trial, whicii has 
rocked a continent. Aaron is free; his friends 
crowd about him jubilantly, wliilc the loving, 
lustrous Theo weeps upon liis sliouUlcr. 

{To be continued.) 

University of